I didn’t plan to come to come to graduate school and spend so much of my time in high schools.
During the last two years I’ve discovered that I love getting knee-deep in a problem, immersing myself in another world that’s different and new. My interest in education began with a small seedling of an idea to teach design to high school students. I was excited to research a problem and create a solution that didn’t exist yet.
I met a lot of teachers early on, and everyone rolled their eyes in reference to the “problem with education.” I had heard plenty in the media about the problem, but I had no idea how little I knew about the depth and complexity of the issue. The politics and bureaucracy of education were far removed from the idealized memory of my own experiences as a high school student.
I finally felt like I had a good understanding of the state of public education after months of visiting high school classes, talking to teachers, and attending education reform conferences. What I learned is that there isn’t just one source accountable for the changes being made across the system. It’s a complex web of moving parts that change every day as students and teachers interact, mediated by the knowledge passing between them.
There’s an even bigger problem with the way we’re trying to solve the education problem. Many popular solutions begin at the top and work their way down through the hands of policy makers, administrators, teachers and finally to students. That method is different from the world we live in outside of schools that is continually updating itself through an agile framework that enables the best and brightest solutions to shine.
I don’t think the complex problem with public education will be solved by men and women in business suits at the top, who make rational decisions behind closed doors that affect the lives of millions of young people. In my experiences I’ve seen that these young people are bursting with creativity and a thirst for learning that goes unnoticed by those who don’t share a classroom with them each day.
The right solution will be delivered in pieces. It must come from the ground, from the teachers and students who are in the trenches getting the job done every day. When we empower these individuals and pay attention to the results, then we will start to realize changes in education at a systemic level.