I’ve recently been taking grad school classes for Secondary Education from University of Maryland University College (UMUC). I like the program and wholly recommend it (hidden advertisement :). Serious, I have to give a shout out to two of my Education professors: Dr. Clark and Dr. Pilato. I learned so much from them. Now, I get to sit back and watch them mull over my lack of use of APA style with disgust :).
First and foremost, I have interest in starting my own laboratory or experimental school someday. As my professors say when we write a lesson plan: begin with the end in mind or the purpose. What KIND of learner do we want to develop in our schools and what kind of members of society do we want to develop in our schools? My answer: intelligent, morally conscious, and giving members of society. I believe that students should be taught to understand themselves as well as develop a moral and philosophical backbone (non-religious) in school so that they have a framework for an effective life view and a development of a moral compass. These two things are more important to me than specializing in a certain field. Why go straight into the “what’s” without first answering the “why’s” and “how’s” first? That’s like putting the cart before the horse. Ideology precedes action in my opinion, and in this case releasing highly intelligent and trained students that have no idea of who they are and what they want to contribute to the world with their knowledge (of course it was never discussed in school) can be anywhere from an ammoral act on one hand (they can do some good, some bad, or simply act for themselves and their own future) to a dangerous act (providing intelligence for military actions… for what? To blow up a village? Or perhaps creating an atom bomb for a paycheck?).
I believe the separation of Church and State have also taken out the teaching of ethics and morals in school. However, I am not just saying for teachers to teach morals such as honesty and integrity from their own experiences and opinions. There should be a curriculum of classical philosophers (this is how Albert Einstein and various scholars have been trained) and could include thinkers from different cultures – it can also be discussion based so that students can explore their own views and listen to those of others. Perhaps role playing and improvisation could help too.
Understanding of the self should come from a set curriculum including various child development theorists, to self-help books (Life 101 or a Deepok Chopra text – approved by a panel or the county/state), and philosophers (John Dewey, John Locke, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Confucius etc.). Again, this should be discussion based to so that students to grapple with their own views in a dialogue-driven, not debate-driven, classroom that is safe and non-threatening that can be facilitated by an even-tempered and patient teacher who can guide the direction of discussions and scaffold (supply a framework and support students along the way in order to gradually release it to build independence) lessons (<– run-on sentence).
Lastly, schools can help chunk knowledge and bring back some of the “magic” or mysticism of knowledge as well as taking away the “dry” and “secular” nature of the curriculum by using archetypes as starting and guiding points in children’s/adolescent’s education. Archetypes will be assigned or based on student’s innate talents/temperaments: the healer (learns of the mentality and traits of healers from different traditions before or while learning chemistry, physics, physiology etc.), the educator, the wizard, the artist, the musician he warrior (learns martial arts), the athlete etc. Ideally, in addition to specializing in one archetype and building courses around them, they should be encouraged to be well-rounded to develop their weaknesses. Also, many children LOVE video games these days because of these archetypal traits (think role playing games [RPGs] such as Final Fantasy) and thus using them as a way to chunk material, to build student motivation, as well as change the “atmosphere” of classroom culture may very well build more engaged learners.
Have a great day! 😀