Llarry52 commented on one of my “story” posts, saying:
ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s another argument – or story – with respect to this. It is that the U.S. does see education as an investment and is simply asking what are we getting for that investment.
Llarry52 is a master of the data, and with it, he makes a compelling case. I responded to his comment, but I had such a fun time (It’s the most fun you can have alone in a hotel room on Friday night, without getting in to trouble) writing this over-the-top piece, that I had to share it out here.
Larry, and I hope I can call you Larry, you are obviously well read in the data on education expenditure and results collection, and the data does make a compelling case for an education system that is craving for money, yet willing to do no more than just site around and waste it. I suspect that I sound like the “Feeeeeed Me” monster in Little Shop of Horrors.
I submit, however, that education, in its intent to take each child, each class, each school, and prepare a society of skilled, innovative, resorceful, and happily adaptive citizens is far more than the laboratory that your data makes it out to be. It is far more complex, rich, and exciting than simply counting out dollar bills, pumping in the teachers you’ve payed for, the curriculum you’ve paid for, the textbooks, art supplies, a compter here and there, and then watching shinning new adults marching enthusiastically into their futures.
I maintain that investment must increase dramatically because we do not live in the 1950s, we’re not teaching Theodore Cleaver (Leave it to Beaver), and thirty-year careers are a relic of more secure and far less interesting times. Teachers are not technicians applying prescribed, laboratory-tested strategies. They are artisans who fill their classrooms and the lives of their children as human beings.
I’m not just talking about money, though just about everything I am talking about will cost. We must invest in new definitions of what it means to be educated today, the roles of teachers, and what students do in their classrooms. We must restructure our schools of education, and invent a system of sustained, casual, professional development, where all teachers are, above all other things, life-long learners. We must invest time in our educators so that they can research, collaborate, assess, reflect, invent and reinvent, so that every class session is so exciting that children have no resistance to learning.
I know I’m ranting pie in the sky. But shouldn’t the sky be what we aim for for our children, their future, and our future?
Finally, I suspect that teaching a child in a small town in India, with scarce access to telephones, television, and the Internet, would probably be a little cheaper than successfully teaching a child with daily access in their bedrooms to the world wide web, gaming team members from around the world, a network of friends and collaborators, and the tools they need to invent to play and play to invent.
Two more cents worth!