I have a daughter (Alanna) and she is in 3rd grade. Her first week of state testing starts tomorrow – what is her life in school going to be like? I live in the district where I grew up and I can tell you that I was not taught to be a life long learner, nor did I discover my passions however I did learn to be good at school. Frankly, I am concerned that my daughter will have similar feelings towards her life in school as I do. George introduced my to this is a valedictorian speech by Erica Goldson in 2010:
“I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning.”
How powerful is this? I have read it multiple times. What she says is beautiful, real, but also so sad. How many other students feel like this as they graduate? Our college grad rates are disappointing to say the least, especially when you think about the cost of post-secondary education.
“We must develop LEARNERS who explore their PASSIONS and their TALENTS” – George Couros
Reading that valedictorian speech should be a wake up call for all in education. We need to find ways to empower our youth in their learning and these things (learning, passion, talents) will begin to occur and be discovered naturally. Let’s also empower our teachers to take risks, try new things, and explore the unknown. Too many districts are still operating like “they always have” and have the mindset of “we have always done it this way”. (Insert vomit emoji face)
I will not wait for others to drive the bus. My goal is to step up and work to help my daughter find her passions in life. I am not going to sit by and wait for my school, her teachers to do it. I believe that passions are things that drive ALL of us. They aid in keeping us from taking unnecessary risks, drinking at young ages, and drug use. My passions, as I mentioned before have always been sports, being a leader, and family. I lost those for a period of time while in college because I was no longer at home, playing 4 sports, and did not take advantage of ways to be a leader. I was leading, but in the wrong ways, therefore, I lost track of my passions. I have rediscovered them and I am back ,and stronger than ever. I want to avoid that with my children. I want them to discover things that they are passionate about so that they learn how to learn, they find a passion for learning, and they find passions in things that can last a life time. This, I believe, is a major key in them growing up to be successful.