Okay, so there’s a lot going on with education and I know about .0001% of it.
I have never wanted to be a teacher. I still do not. I don’t want the power or the responsibility that comes with it. That said, I do think in the great overhaul that is/will/should be taking place, education needs to be a part of it.
Here are my thoughts on the upcoming academic year in the United States and my infinitesimal part of it.
- Education cannot be treated as a race.
It is deeply disturbing to me that children have large portions of their lives determined based on the zip code into which they are born and the schools to which they have access. This (like every flaw in our society) has been exacerbated by the pandemic such that schools that already have more resources are more able to adapt to remote-learning and schools that have fewer resources are even further disadvantaged.
This has been a fundamental argument for many educators about the need to re-open schools in the fall.
I believe that re-opening schools will lead to a great number of deaths, but to many families, students, and educators the risk of “falling behind” in the educational system and the consequent life-long ramifications are worth the possible loss of life.
THIS IS INSANE.
Children should not have to put their lives at risk in order to earn an education.
I am not saying that the disadvantages aren’t real. I am saying that the solution needs to be a fundamental re-structuring of formal education that provides an equal platform.
2. Education shouldn’t be the catch-all for child and youth health and wellness resources.
I completely support the idea that students need to be treated as full human beings. I do not think, however, that schools should be the only thing standing between students and malnutrition, abuse or isolation.
The teachers I have known throughout my life are asked to be proficient in an astonishing number of skill-sets. They are asked to be counselors, social workers, mediators, disciplinarians, dietitians, and all too often wardens.
In addition to the (hopeful) requisite knowledge in their subject matter.
I don’t think this is fair. Not to the teachers, not to the schools, not to the students, not to the families.
Students suffering from malnutrition shouldn’t be reliant on schools to feed them. Students suffering from abuse shouldn’t need to have a teacher be the only person to intervene. There need to be more systems in place to provide childcare, nutrition and community health services. It can’t all fall on the education system which doesn’t get enough funding as is.
3. The ICE decision to promote a ban on international students who don’t take in-person classes is nothing short of blackmail.
I have written to all my representatives (not that it will do much) and will be calling every member of the Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee as well.
I don’t believe that faculty members should have to choose between hosting in-person classes (dangerous no matter what precautions are put in place) and losing their international students.
4. Yes, I’m a selfish bastard and I don’t want to do in-person teaching.
I have asthma. People with under-lying health risks are 6 times more likely to be hospitalized and 12 times more likely to die.
I am attending grad school to become a better writer.
I am not attending grad school to become a teacher.
I am certainly not attending grad school to die.
I will not be going into a classroom in the fall. If this means I will be dropped from the program, then so be it.
I have been unemployed many times before. Luckily it’s just me and Scout and I’m used to having no money.
As I wrote about previously, I refuse to do work that puts me at risk. I don’t think our current system of “education” is worth it. I don’t think capitalism is worth it.
This is in no way meant to denigrate the hard-working teachers and administrators in the educational system. It is rather a plea to look at the fundamental principles on which our educational system is built and to re-build it from the ground up. (Along with everything else.)
Why do we prioritize competition in our educational system when we understand that stress and fear tend to fight against the process of learning and thinking creatively? (Capitalism.) Why do some schools receive more than enough in funding and resources while other schools are over-policed and under-funded? (Racism + capitalism.)
What would it look like to have an education system that centered equity, compassion, and whole-person-based learning?
What if we had ALL the funding currently going into police departments and prisons to create this new education system? (Abolition sounds pretty good, yes?)
I don’t know what the answers are for the legitimate questions about those without childcare, children left at home hungry, open to abuse, lonely. I don’t know. But asking teachers to solve all these problems at once is a terrible idea.
Providing community resources seems like a better one.
That’s all I have for right now.