Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 30-08-2015

This is the beginning of a philosophical debate.. but is school too easy?
Should school, in general, be easier academically so as to be comfortable for all students, with the possibility of boring some students? OR
Should school, in general, be more rigorous academically and challenging all students, with the possibility of leaving some students behind?

This is not a new problem.  In fact I believe it is a problem that is as old as education itself.  What is the proper pace and depth that education should be metered out to our students?

For those of us old enough to remember the picture to the left I would argue that education at that time was:
– More rooted in the basics and had a narrower scope than today.
– Outside of the one room school houses education was a one-size fit all approach.
– Most students, at that time, that did not conform with the average (special needs being an example) were not in the same classroom.  If they were in the same school at all.
– Education was tough but designed to get a child to a 12th grade education.

Somewhere along the line practices changed and ideas like inclusion for all, broadening the curriculum, common core, sex ed, tech ed, bullying awareness, STEM, and P16 (post secondary) became part of our school systems.  I am not at all arguing against any of these notions, in fact I support them.  However, also along the way came this belief that school should be more fun, engaging at all times, and just plain easier.  Why did we begin to think that way?  Shouldn’t education be fun, but also work.  We are exercising our minds.  Practicing to run a marathon (not that I have ever done that) is not always fun.  As a coach I know my athletes enjoyed playing the sport but didn’t always enjoy completing ladders, it is easily noticeable on their faces.  Heck, as an athlete myself I did not enjoy losing my lunch on the edge of the football field, but I did it because I wanted to play.

I think we, AMERICAN parents and students, have lost sight of the fact that school should be difficult.  It is a practice of exercising our brains.  Just as we say in sports you play like you practice, isn’t that the same for learning.  Do we want our kids to have it easy when they are learning to the point they don’t know how to learn/work during their adult lives.  I don’t think so.  Education today must include a strong foundation in the basics and students should be expected to practice these extensively.  Personally, I don’t have an issue with flash cards for sight words or math facts.  Once some of the fundamentals are solid a child can easily build their knowledge upon it.  Secondly, education today must meet high academic standards set to ensure each and every student is prepared to either enter work, the military, or post-secondary.  However, unlike the picture above, this process is differentiated to address the unique learning needs of each and every child.  This is where the debate still rages.. what is best for this child.  What is too hard, and what is too easy.  Lastly, education today must connect the learning a student is doing today to the reality of their future.  The proverbial “why am I learning this” still must be addressed in ways that engage our kids.

Is school too easy.. that is probably a question that will never be answered.  But, I would bet that most of us would rather have experienced an education that challenged us, rather than one that just allowed us to pass through easily.  To that end I hope to create and ensure that the system Ellendale students pass through meet these demands.  It would not please me more to have a graduate come back and tell me their next adventure in life was easier because of the work they did here at EPS.

From kindergarten to graduation, I went to public schools, and I know that they are a key to being sure that every child has a chance to succeed and to rise in the world.

Dick Cheney