BY STEVE SEARS
I was involved in a discussion about education the other day. It was intriguing. When you think about it, looking from the outside in, the way we educate our kids hasn’t changed that much in the last 100 years.
According to the Education Commission of the United States, every state has its own mandate on the number of school days and the number of hours. (http://ecs.force.com/mbdata/mbquest2ci?rep=IT1801-2)
I am not sure the reason behind this. There may well be a logical reason, and if so, please enlighten me.
I have friends back in Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma City School District started the K-12 school year recently, and they were expecting 100-degree temps the first week of school. Now maybe all the classrooms have air conditioning, but they sure didn’t when I was going to school there as a child.
|U.S. education hasn't change since the Johnson County school in 1953.|
This is where I differ with public school and agree with home schooling. Again, I could be wrong, but I believe home schools structure their year based on curriculum.
Yes, I know public schools follow a curriculum too. But they are required to be in class a certain number of days in the school year.
I don’t understand why public schools can’t get the curriculum completed between Labor Day and Memorial Day.
Here in Cheyenne, school starts next week, but it will continue into June while other districts start in mid-August and will be out before Memorial Day.
Is there a scientific study that says the kids in Kansas who attend 186 days in their school year are that much smarter or prepared than those of neighboring Colorado, where students are required to be 160 days in the classroom?
Yes, I know that is the perfect set-up for my Wyoming friends to lay out some great Colorado jokes.
I know there are several variables that go into this equation, such as the teachers unions, which I support, and staff development days, so let’s explore that.
In Wyoming there are several school districts that have four-day school weeks, including Laramie County School District 2. I assume that means longer school days to meet the mandated hours and shorter holiday breaks to meet the required mandate of days attended.
I actually like the thought of a four-day school week, but not in the sense that everyone gets Fridays off. I would support a four-day classroom school week, but Fridays would be an unconventional day. Before I jump into what I call a “Life Day,” let’s touch on another issue we are dealing with.
My generation and those generations before mine are quick to identify a lack of work ethic among today’s kids. It’s easy for us to blame them for being lazy and glued to their devices, but we need to look at ourselves as a cause of this problem.
It is my opinion, as the Vietnam War came to an end, America set the course of change in place. The last draft call was on Dec. 7, 1972, and the authority to induct expired on June 30, 1973. Don’t get me wrong, ending the Vietnam War was a good thing, and we owe all our soldiers far more than they receive.
But by ending the draft, we also ended the service of many of our youth. There is something to be said for young adults going from high school directly into service. There were lessons that were never learned, and accountability that was lost. And with every generation thereafter, we lose a little more work ethic, a little more respect and a little more patriotism. These are all things we could use, and which are timeless.
Now let’s bring this back into our educational structure and think outside the box a little.
As I said before, I am all in favor of a four-day classroom week, but Fridays should not be just an extended weekend. Every Fridays could be considered a “Life Day.”
Students should be expected to shadow a mentor or a career choice. Maybe they could volunteer at a shelter or a senior citizens home. Maybe one Friday a month, students are required to be in the auditorium to listen to a speaker and testimonies from those who are in the real world.
If students are looking to go into agriculture, then on Friday they are working with a local farmer or rancher. If they are looking at a career in the legal field, then they are shadowing an attorney. If they are just completely undecided, as many younger students will be, then they will be expected to be at a homeless shelter or assisted living residence, reading and assisting those in need.
The most valuable lessons are not taught in the classroom. Academics are taught in the classroom; compassion, morals and ethics are taught in the field, aka “life’s classroom.”
Not every student should be in life’s classroom. Some will need the traditional classroom to get caught up or for academic reinforcement, such as tutoring. This would open up Fridays for teachers for staff development and parent-teacher conferences.
In order for this to work, there has to be accountability. Fridays would have to be a legitimate day, and students would have to take part as if they are in the classroom. This would be an absence if they were not there as well as a requirement in order to move on to the next grade or to graduate.
This would be a great way to build character and replace some of the lessons we are losing in today’s society.
I believe our educational system will take on some drastic and much-needed changes in the next 20 to 50 years. I believe public schools will take on some of the philosophies of home schools.
I believe we will see classrooms move into an a la carte system. You will pick the courses and teachers that meet your requirements. Every school district will have 15 English teachers, and each teacher may have a different location. That location may be a home, or it may be a strip mall; the same with science, math and other subjects.
Most subjects will be taken online at either a location or at home. Don’t be surprised to see Mrs. Johnson's algebra class to be located next to King Soopers. Mrs. Johnson pays the lease and utilities and the state pays Mrs. Johnson a certain amount per student.
Again, this is out of the box, but I can see it happening.
Recapping, I support a four-day classroom and a Life Day. Now, go ahead and call me crazy. I’ve heard it before.
Steve Sears is a small businessman and entrepreneur in Cheyenne. He recently opened Elevate Group Training Studios at 1408A E 13th St.