As many of you know, I have been thinking a lot about education lately. I find myself continuing to ponder systemic questions at all levels, from elementary building blocks to the immense pressure placed on high school students. I have stated on many occasions, in many ways, how I feel about education – and my concerns that educators of today are not providing our students with the tools they will need tomorrow. We begin to empower our students with these tools from the moment they walk into our schools – even in preschool.
There are traditional skills that have always been considered the building blocks, or foundation of traditional education. This includes skills such as: understanding number sense, phonemic awareness, etc. We work hard to build in our children the basics of “reading, writing and arithmetic.” While the way in which we teach these concepts may have shifted over the years, the basic knowledge base remains remarkably similar.
I wonder, however, if we are missing the boat. Where are the social skills in this equation? Are we working to build character in our children? Are we teaching them the values of honesty, integrity, respect, and caring? Do we understand that teaching a child how to make a friend is as valuable (or, perhaps, even more valuable) than learning to add and subtract numbers?
I find it is easier to understand the value of these skills when we realize how devastating it is for a child to NOT have these skills. Educators must continue to question if we are giving our students the skills and tools necessary to be successful in this world. Sometimes these tools coordinate with our traditional educational system and sometimes they clash considerably. I believe if schools focus on educating the whole child we will be able to find the balance of teaching traditional skills and coupling those lessons with opportunities to develop valuable life skills.
Today, 63 days ’til 40, I am reminded that the educational building blocks of today are more than academics, they focus on the entire child and the child’s well-being.