Education — Change is Needed

The brilliant, yet fictional, Sam Seaborn once said:

education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don’t need little changes, we need gigantic, monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. The competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be making six-figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge to its citizens, just like national defense. That’s my position. I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet.

He isn’t kind or right or on the right track; he is exactly right. Whichever of West Wing’s writers penned those lines (was it you Aaron Sorkin?), I solute you.

With a nearly-4-year-old, school selection is weighing heavily on my mind and the options — public, private, or parochial — aren’t looking all that great. The issue isn’t necessarily the schools themselves, it’s this whole horrible system we’ve created.

And then last night I heard Sal Khan on the Commonwealth Club podcast, speaking about Khan Academy. I urge you to listen to it. Not only is the story of its start entertaining and interesting, but some of the ideas he puts forth make me want the whole system rethought.

My daughter goes to pre-school that is year round and deftly mixes creative activities with learning, similar to what Khan speaks about. I ask her what she did at school and she says “we played and we played and we played” and then tells me what she learned. This is what school should be! So why does it seem to only exist in a private pre-school?