A well-rounded education is critical to educating children who can think critically, creatively, and can make their own decisions. Make no mistake, our teachers know how to teach this way. They have been trained in child development. However, the district has shackled them. Right now, there is a hyper focus on the subjects that are on the state standardized tested, which are reading, math and science (after 5th grade). I am a chemist, of course I think that these are important subjects. However, we can not neglect the rest of the child’s healthy development in a false attempt to cram more test-prep into their heads. A healthy education also known as a whole child education includes:
- Elementary science
- Fine arts and music
- Vocational and life studies like shop and basic finances
The whole-child education has been removed from our schools for several reasons:
- Testing: This is a major reason because many feel there ‘just isn’t time’. In truth, the ‘more is more’ mentality isn’t working for Lake County. Insanity: Doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.–Albert Einstein. We need to step back and meet the needs of each child.
- Micromanaging: Our district has created blueprints and all teachers are expected to teach from them daily. Each teacher teaching the same thing on the same day. If you have ever taught or coached, you know this is a bureaucratic convenience but a recipe for disaster. Children learn at different paces and teachers need to adjust to how the students in their classes are learning without penalty.
- Priorities: Test-prep and test time has overtaken educating. Learning SAT test taking skills is it’s own class, and a valuable class for high school students. Learning test-prep skills should not be a year long class in 3rd through 10th grade. When this occurs, children are not learning, they are learning to test.
- Developmentally inappropriate common core standards: The common core standards are especially inappropriate at the lower grades. More academics younger is not better when it cuts out creative play. This is well researched. Yes, a child who is ready can learn to read, but a child who is not ready should be able to progress at a reasonable low-stress pace. We do not need 1st grade children frightened of taking a test in 3rd grade. This has got to stop. We need to return play to the elementary classrooms. In the higher school years, our teachers need the freedom to teach from the great literary classics to round out their experiences.