Solutions to Our Failing U.S Educational System: Confessions of a Retired Principal. The Issues Superintendents wouldn’t listen to.
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA, UNITED STATES, October 19, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ — By Anton Anthony Ed.S – I have heard this my entire educational career in a room full of; you would think, the smartest educational minds in the country. How do we improve our educational system? Although there would be different solutions, they all would be tied to and comparing, pouring more money into an endless pit. Let’s get better computers. Let’s buy new Smartboards. How about let’s buy new busses. No, let’s buy new textbooks and change the curriculum. As I sat in rooms with the Ph. D’S and the E.D.’s of the world, you would think they would understand the problem, and its common sense, but as my friends would tell me, “Common sense ain’t common as you would think” even in a room full of educational leaders. Over my career in education, I would share my common-sense ideas, and leaders would snarl and say things like, no, that’s not good enough, or it should cost more, and if it doesn’t cost, that means it’s not good enough. Some would ask, “Well, who is piloting this program?”
Hundreds of years of failing educational systems, and no one seems to recognize we still have kids doing the exact same thing as the 1920s. One teacher and 30 students are in desks in rows trying to learn information after the 6th grade, which they will probably never use in the real world. The difference today is that they all have IPADs and phones instead of textbooks. Is that it?!? When are we going to realize all students are individuals and all have different God-given skills and gifts? When are we going to realize that the next generation of students are learners who are dying to think outside of the box to create the newest idea or gadget? Why are we not interested in discovering what God-given gifts and talents our students are blessed with and why are we not teaching them to sharpen them?
As a principal, I saw too many talented students labeled as Special Education Students because they couldn’t pass a test and learned differently. I have had students identified as SLD and MOID being able to take a phone apart and put it back together better than engineers at Apple. I have had students with the same classification draw graphics and cartoons, and characters that looked better than the real-life person or places they were drawing. Yes, the majority of states have tried to develop something called an ILP, which stands for Individual Learning Plans, in which they are taking some of the students’ interests and forcing them into careers and pathways that similarly fit. But what if students are much more creative than the field teachers and counselors are forcing them into (which They Are)? Why are we not allowing our students to be creative to teach us instead of forcing them into careers that may dissipate before they graduate high school, let alone college?
For over a hundred years, we have created a bunch of test-takers, and these tests have held back so many more talented students from an incredible future. Most of those students are students of poverty like most of the ones I taught and was the principal of. The solution to educational reform is not money and not ILP’s either; one small solution is ILIP. ILIP stands for Individual Learning Interest Plans that won’t be started in middle school but will be started when a child enters the school setting at 5. The difference between ILP and ILIP is that an ILP only focuses on trying to fit the student into a box to figure out what program to feed you into. Individual Learning Interest Plans would follow the student as they grow. The difference with an ILIP is that not only does it track the students’ interest, but also student motivation as well. If teachers were allowed to view a student’s ILIP each year, you would know the children in your class before you meet them. An ILIP isn’t and wouldn’t be just test scores; it would be all the students’ likes and dislikes. From favorite foods to favorite careers and actors. From what makes them happy, sad, angry, and excited. The ILIP wouldn’t just cover what career the student is interested in; it would also cover the social-emotional aspect of the child as well. Students don’t learn from people they don’t connect with, and they don’t care if it is their favorite subject. Providing teachers and educators with a student ILIP makes educating the whole student easier than trying to learn a child as you meet them when they walk through your classroom door.
Covid forced educational facilities to become flexible and to implement some type of online learning, and I watched how students slipped further and further and widened an already lengthy gap. It was difficult to watch students enroll in online classes with teachers of some who didn’t know the student they were trying to teach, and half of them already didn’t care. How much easier would it have been if teachers had been equipped with the student’s interests and how they learned before teaching them. I watched teachers struggle the entire year trying to break the ice with students repeatedly. The answers are more than money; when are we going to learn the students we teach and allow them to be creative and use the God-given gifts they have to create the next fortune 100 company instead of following a path that’s already drying up. ILIP would be the beginning of transforming and improving education in the US into the new millennium. This article is only the tip of the iceberg. If you are interested in a deeper understanding and more, please contact us at AASteamAcademy@gmail.com