The Problem with Education

After much consideration, I have come to a conclusion about the problem with education….

The Problem with EducationThe problem with education is that money doesn’t fix everything.  Taking it away makes things  worse as small or poor schools struggle to have basic supplies and comfortable learning environments, let alone modern technology for teaching and learning.  But even rich schools are not without problems.  All the flashy gadgets can’t make a student learn.

The problem with education is that not all teachers are great.  Some have burned out from too many tests, too many problem students, too many curriculum changes that are like rotating a flat tire before driving onwards.  Some are ill-prepared for the classroom from the start.  Telling them to “try harder” while slashing pay doesn’t encourage the best and the brightest to stay in the field (some will, but many will leave, or become demoralized even if they reluctantly stay.)

The problem with education is that not all students come to class ready and able to learn.  They may not come to school fed, rested, or loved, let alone with homework completed or supplies for learning.   Fractions mean nothing to a student worried about mom’s boyfriend of the month.  Analyzing poetry has no relevance to the student afraid of how he’ll anger dad this time.

The problem with education is that not all students value their educational opportunity.  Some because they know they can get a job anyway because of their skill or family connections; others because they know they can’t get a job (or one that pays enough) regardless of the education.  And others still because they have already gotten a job, and that is more important than school.

The problem with education is that even the best teacher may not reach the unmotivated, uninterested, uncared for student.  On the other hand, the most capable student can struggle to overcome the distractions of less interested peers, of teachers who spend more time on classroom management than content, of conquering tests that cannot capture what that student really knows.

The problem with education is that it is full of people– human, all of them, who generally do the best they can with the skills, the situation, and attitudes they have.  There is no real solution without addressing ALL of the human components that falter and fail– as humans do– along the way.

Really, “the” problem with education is the idea that there is one answer that will help all students, all teachers, all school buildings or districts, all communities.  The problem is that there are many factors that contribute to the success, and failure, of students, schools, and teachers.  Fixing one area cannot solve “the” problem.


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Clair Dickson, high school English teacher, likes free eTexts and Project Based Learning to stretch her meager budget .  Visit her store High School English on a Shoestring Budget to stretch your budget.


One thought on “The Problem with Education

  1. HI Clair, I’m actually up soon for posting, but I couldn’t agree more. Taking money away can sometimes hurt a lot, but throwing money and computers at a situation certainly doesn’t fix things. Love and patience does. Comparing students all across America never did much good either – I really appreciated your post in a heartfelt way and JUST read an article yesterday. . . about a district down the road where the students were all “failing.” I suppose when it is all about numbers, then sure, it’s also about who we have to blame, who we have to fire, who is a bad kid or bad parent too. The more we as parents and teachers try, the more good we’ll do. The money? Well, more helps you do more but it’s no substitute for love.

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