Education Schmeducation

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BaaaaaaBoooooomm!!!  That's just to get your attention that this is going to be different.

If you're hear by accident that's good I think chance is a cool thing to mess with.  If you're here on purpose and you so choose you can check out my rants on this concept of learning that you've landed on, I won't talk about gov'ts or journals or stuff like that, I'm going to tell stories about growing up in the US educations system in Tennessee (yep, not the best one we have but it was mine) and the people and things I did.  I'm going to try to embarass myself as little as possible but that will be tough.  I'm also going to try and connect the dots to what we SHOULD be doing.  If you are a good reader you will find the point but I promise I won't make it too easy each week.

First, I DO NOT want to talk about Education.  I think its a silly word and overused concept that just fits conveniently into gov't lexicons and just reminds me of Mr. Neil from my 8th Jr high who always said to us "You are here for your education" didn't know what that meant then, don't know now.  I do know that I have some very vivid memories of Education as it was put to me growing up and that they don't fit what I know now about learning and doing.  But before I pontificate on that, I'd like to share Mr Neil with you.

Mr Neil was an uninteresting guy and I think an archetype of what we in the US run into throughout our school time (my first substitute for education, I'll try a few and see what I like) the most significant thing about him was how red he was.  Always red, rouge laden red haired handlebar moustached freckled fella who seemed perpetually pissed off.  That was my image of "Education: for a long time.  Please, please tell me about the crazy ass characters you grew up when you read this...we all have them and I could use a few good characters in my brain.

He was a part time coach, part time teacher, part time associate, vice, assitant, sub principal that was only full time on being irritated (and red of course).  He stood in the center of the cafeteria at each lunch shift and when it was time to shut up and get ready to go back to class after the world famous square pizza (a trend that the pizza deliveries servies in the US have finally picked up on) he would raise is freckled arm with a fist at the end, a seat spot or two on his short sleeved shirt would show and he'd simply hold it there and wait for the kids to be quiet.  Amazing assumption of power.  AND IT FREAKIN WORKED!!  If we didn't zip it right away, he'd scowl and look at us and occiasionally call on someone to shut up and then...................silence. 

If you made it this far you're asking yourself why I'm telling you this. Other than Mr. Neil being a memorable guy it's the type of system I grew up in, a teacher centered one, not a student centered one.  This is the view of the world that the teacher has all the information, sits behind the desk and holds the keys (grades) to whether you are learning or not.  Very Darwinian view of the world that we all have to cross through this GATE of knowledge to become smart.

But what if we're already smart?  What is the student is really the center of learning and like every great coach in the world someone is just trying to bring out what they are already capable of?  Holy Crap what a concept - kids are smart, and decent and goofy and fun and we can figure out a way to make this thing fun.  God I wish I was my teacher back then.

On Friday I will attend my 20th High School reunion, yes I can't believe it either I'm eternally convinced that my brain didn't make it past 21 so this comes as quite a suprise to me as well.  What is this body that agreed to go to such a thing and what do i expect to get from it?  I changed school in my Junion year (11th grade for those of you not from the US) and it was a real humdinger of a change.  I'll spare you why I changed but say I ended going to a smaller town, smaller school and was an instant odd man out for a little while. 

Now I'm going back to this strange place, purely for the "surrealness" of seeing how things but also to see a couple of people I counted as very close friends at one time.  Unfortunately my wife and 4 kids can't come with me because we're traveling so much this year and I'll be going it alone.  I will share details of this on next post and respond to anythign that comes in.  But it's a hell of way to kick off a blog ain't it?

Let's summarize:

  1. Education as a word sucks
  2. Mr. Neil was really red and uninteresting but had a weird power noone could explain.
  3. Kids might actually be the center of learning instead of teachers
  4. I'm old enough to go to my 20th HS reunion and have to do it alone because my wife is smarter than me and chose not to go.




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