On Education

I’ve been doing classroom observations of different second grade classrooms during the ninety minute reading block, this past week–during naptime, on days where I have just a child or two at my place.

I have two words for you:



Make that eight words:

Maaai. Nnn. D. Nnn. Ummmm. B. Eee. Ng.

I totally respect what these teachers are up against, and what they do, with so few resources, and I should clarify that some teachers were better than others, but really, folks.

There has to be a better way to teach our young people.

I, for one, would last about two days in some of those classrooms before I lost my mind. Not to mention my will to live.

And I could see it in the eyes of the students in those rooms, too. Just doing their time. Because what else can you do?

But seriously, what else can  we do? I am not asking a rhetorical question here.  I would love to hear your solutions…

Home school them? I bet more than half those kids don’t even have two parents in the home, let alone one who can stay home full time to teach them. Today, 39 out of 40 students I observed in the Othello district were first or second generation immigrants. Their parents and many of them don’t even speak English–let alone read and write it. We need public schools. I’m not arguing that.

But we need more effective public schools.

Far more effective. And how do you fight the status quo? How do you even formulate a new theory to improve a system men and women have been trying to improve for hundreds of years?


5 responses to “On Education

  • psphoenix

    Sounds like they need better teachers. You are going to blow their minds. It’s not often what’s taught that is boring- just how it’s taught. Just one teacher at a time.

    • kimberlybbert

      That’s the thing–I think you can be a wonderful teacher and still come up short, simply because of the limitations of the system. There is much that is right and good, but there is much that needs change. Some of these teachers weren’t bad teachers, probably good teachers, even–but not for every kid in their class, and downright damaging for some of them.

  • Ruth

    Ah – good questions! Very good questions. First something has to give – either in the personal life of each student or the collective life of the community. The LDS church happens to have a new literacy program (they have helped adults to read and write for many, many years). It is called ‘Daily Dose’. Missionary couples, many monolingual English, teach English in a unique and very effective way. If parents can become more literate THAT will make changes in children’s lives and in the community as a whole. Daily Dose also shares English culture in the process. I love the DD program! It addresses some of the deep core needs that influence many aspects of the problem you are describing. So I posit some other questions to you: What ‘deep core’ issue shape schools into mind numbing ‘cookie cutter’ do-the-time institutions – for not only students but teachers and even administration? Is it because they have strayed from educating ‘people’ as they have tried to find and resolve ‘deep core’ issues (like hunger)that interfere with learning? If education were stripped to ‘Ben’ cores what would it consist of?- What would be left? Remember you only get 5 or fewer – not more than 10 and ideally only 1 or 2 items/ideas. Is it because children are being de-‘personalized’ by a system of conformity and necessity? Are we (parents, families, voters) buying into (and even expecting) a something for nothing, ‘someone else will take care of it for me’, mentality so we can spend more time on ourselves, our houses, our cars, our vacations and even our jobs? things that validate us as ‘people’ – instead of doing and being ‘people’? Sure ‘economic’ necessities are a factor but have they become the ultimate excuse as well? OK now I will climb down from soap box and stop ranting – unless you provoke me with more questions on which I have some equally strong opinions.

    • kimberlybbert


      Tons of issues, here, I’m sure–but the one that you raised that has me thinking this morning is that we have strayed from educating people because we are trying to resolve deep core issues like hunger… Which need to be addressed. But maybe not by the school system. I’m going to keep thinking about that…

  • brotherames

    Henderson Business College had a system that intrigued me. The teachers taught whatever was in their lesson plan. Students took tests when they were ready to take them. For example the school taught typing, filing, and accounting. Since I had typing in high school I tested out about halfway through the semester. I still went in once a week for timings. Filing was new but not difficult. I stayed with the class on that one. Accounting was a challenge. I spent the time I saved from not going to typing learning accounting. It was a great system.

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