Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Key to Better Education: It's Not Just Teachers

The ancient Greek historian, Thucydides
Two days ago I posted this brief item from a book I'm trying to write about education.  If you follow the news at all, you probably notice that teachers are taking serious heat for the "school crisis" we have in the United States today. 

Let's leave aside the question of whether we really have a school crisis or not.

Let's try to identify the MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR if we want to improve education.  If we want students to get a good education what is the key???

Below you have the short chapter again (until I find a publisher I call what I'm doing "typing for no pay"):

Aesop’s Gym

“Not much is ever gained simply by wishing for it.”

Here’s the first clue, maybe the only clue that matters in the end:  If you hope to improve education you must understand that schools function, in fundamental ways, just like workout facilities for adults. 


Imagine that you have a gym filled with state-of-the-art equipment, a mile from your home. Membership fees are reasonable and you can readily afford to join. The gym opens early, stays open late, and closes only once a year on Christmas Day. Machines are available to work every muscle group and free weights in racks stand reflected in mirrored walls. Treadmills, stair-climbers and stationary bikes are all aligned in perfect mechanical rows.
Still, something is missing.
And in education—as in exercise—identifying that missing “something” is the real key. 

So?  Is the key to improving American education building better facilities. Some people think education can be saved if we give kids computers.  If equipment was the key then everyone who owns a stair-climber at home would already be in shape.  What about creating new national standards?  We already have food labels on all our packaging, telling us how many calories we're eating; and the U. S. government just changed the Food Pyramid into a Food Plate. 

Still, Americans are fat and getting fatter.  That's because writing new "standards" is an exercise in futility, if the real key is missing.

How about teachers?  Are they then the real key?

Well, they're one of many. And every kid is another equally important key.  Parents are keys, as well. 

It's fairly simple, really.  You don't get in shape because the GYM is better or the machines are newer.  The trainer at the gym can certainly help--but YOU have to get to the gym, yourself.  You get in shape when YOU are motivated.

YOU have to head for the gym.  YOU have to work hard on the machines.  If you're a student YOU have to be willing to work to get a good education and your parents have to instill that kind of drive in you; and if we keep ignoring this simple concept, school reform in America is going nowhere, going nowhere fast, and at great cost.

Motivation...that's the real key.  You have to be motivated to get out of your lounge chair and head for the gym.  Otherwise, machines (school computers, smart boards, fancy new textbooks) and trainers (teachers) cannot have an affect.

In the end, good education comes down to hard work and it's really a matter of who wants to get to the gym and sweat. 

A number of readers responded to my post.  Here are a few of the best answers:

LORI CHISMAN BARBER:  My answer would be: Well, a trainer cannot will people to come in and work out so it has to be the people with the will to get in shape (or stay in shape) that have the desire to go to the gym. So, school related--it would be the desire to get an education; the desire to learn.

CHRISTINA VOGELSANG:  "The willingness to learn."

SCOTT ZEILMAN said "initiative to use the tools available to them."

DWAYNE SHELLY had a whole list of good ideas; you have to like his passion.

TIMMIERA LAWRENCE put it simply:  "A willing participant."  But she's a teacher, and so is her husband, Dale, so she had a slight advantage.

1 comment:

  1. Yes but imagination is essential, because you have to first to have imagine that you have a gym. If you don't imagine you have a gym then there is no gym.