Many people agree that education transformation needs to take place. Many agree that we need to change the way we teach and the way we treat our teachers. My work strives to add a unifying goal to this movement. We need to change the reason why we go to school. Rather than testing, standardization, and college attendance, the goal should be...
Alex, a DC student participating in the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, was working on how to cook his favorite food - hamburgers - in space. Marsville, a colony he designed on the fourth planet from the sun, wouldn’t be complete without burgers. In order to solve this problem he began consulting with a British scientist. The scientist told Alex he would soon be visiting DC for a National Science meeting and suggested they do lunch. As Alex told his teacher this he began to cry. When she asked why he was crying he explained that he’d not told the scientist that he was only in the fourth grade and that he didn’t know what “do lunch” meant.
"Everybody can be great ... because everybody can serve." - MLK
You see it everyday in the news, someone who is different is told to go back to where they “came from.” A kid who is different is bullied, beaten, or worse. Someone down on their luck is told they deserve it. Why? Why do we allow this to be a reality in our world? And what does this have to do with education transformation?
As it turns out, compassion, empathy, and altruism, while biological traits, can also be taught and cultivated. It is also something that is fundamental to the survival of our species. It is what will lead to collaboration to tackle the problems that we all face on this globe. These traits will make the world a better place and lead to happier lives. Why not create a school system that values these traits over, or at least as much as, academic excellence?
First, a story from Dave Ramsey:
“Ben and Arthur were friends who grew up together. They both knew that they needed to start thinking about the future. At age 19 Ben decided to invest $2,000 every year for eight years.” This may seem like quite a bit but keep in mind this could be done by saving wages from a part time job while going to school. Back to Ramsey’s story. “He picked investment funds that averaged a 12% interest rate. Then, at age 26, Ben stopped putting money into his investments. So he put a total of $16,000 into his investment funds.
Now, Arthur didn’t start investing until age 27. Just like Ben, he put $2,000 into his investment funds every year until he turned 65. He got the same 12% interest rate as Ben, but he invested 23 more years than Ben did. So Arthur invested a total of $78,000 over 39 years.
When both Ben and Arthur turned 65, they decided to compare their investment accounts. Who do you think had more? Ben, with his total of $16,000 invested over eight years, or Arthur, who invested $78,000 over 39 years?
The health and wellbeing of a nation is at stake. Our current education system does not properly help students learn or practice the three elements that lead to a physically healthy life. The system even prevents it in a few different ways. Most people can guess the first two elements: Fitness and Nutrition. However, the third remains largely a mystery, yet it is just as important as the other two. Do you know what it is?
Let’s take a look at each in turn:
In my time working with high school students I visited schools of varying socioeconomic statuses and demographics. One thing was the same across the board, a lack of emotional regulation training. Despite the incredible benefits emotional health has on us physically and psychologically this kind of education is sorely lacking in society in general. Regardless of one’s socioeconomic status, religious background, or home life most of us aren’t taught how to manage our emotions. Developing the skills required to regulate your emotions and take control of your feelings is not easy. And, like other skills, it requires time and practice. These are also immensely important skills to have in order to be successful in future personal and professional relationships and environments. For these reasons, Emotional Health should be a priority in our education system.
Regulating our feelings and the thoughts that lead to those feelings is also known as self control. When you are able to control your emotions, your prefrontal cortex is more available for you to make good decisions.
According to countless studies, having self control correlates with:
With the state of the current education system, parents and students can sometimes forget that teachers aren’t the reason it has become what it is today. Just like students, they are trying to function within the system. In spite of current flaws they are attempting to best serve our kids. In order to find solutions, we need to better understand the teaching profession. We need to work with teachers to give our kids their best learning circumstances. Today I am proud to share an interview with a friend and teacher. Her unique perspective comes from a variety of education experiences, and she has graciously agreed to share views with us.
Thanks to Kristin for her time!
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Emma B Perez