Yesterday I received in the mail a copy of Scott Oki's latest book, Outrageous Learning, an Education Manifesto.
I couldn't wait to read it as it's all about the former Microsofter's ideas for transforming our public education system (something near and dear to my heart, particularly today!)
I've already finished it. Scott opens the book with some great points; things he can get away with saying, which are the same things that get me into trouble. For example:
"We lament the downward path of our K-12 public school education system. The United States spends $500 billion a year just maintaining the public school systems we have now. We devote billions more public and private dollars each year to try to improve and fix them...There are too many indicators that we are on a negative spiral; and...we accelerate down the path toward mediocrity...or worse."
I couldn't agree more. What's worse is the next paragraph where he asks the question I lament over so often:
"So, where is the public outrage? I believe the lack of sufficient emotional energy to make a positive diference in public education is due to the fact that we, as individuals, feel powerless to fix a problem that is a multi-headed hydra of gargantuan size."
Again, I agree, where IS the public outrage? Why do we accept this as the best we can do? Even the Hydra was vanquished by Hercules; changing the education system will take a Herculean effort, of that you can be sure.
But, what better thing to devote our energies and emotions to? If we are "ok" with, as Oki points out, that our current generation is less educated than its parents were, for the first time in history, then we should just continue to go our merry ways, pretend all is well, and be ready to accept that we deserve the mediocrity we are all too often getting . And soon, we will be overtaken by all the other countries out there who recognize children are vital human capital: our future workforce, future leaders, seeds of the next generations and invest accordingly in preparing them for that future.
As Oki points out, we're going to have to have a major mindset change if anything is to appreciably improve. I find it ironic that I said the same thing in a post from the other day which today I was asked to remove from this blog because it angered two of the five people who actually read it. But, my goal in writing it wasn't to embarrass any particular individuals or entities, rather to express my frustration at the "system" which is the same system Oki seeks to reform in many of the same ways I've been suggesting. I've made my apologies for causing other people distress because positive outcomes for all is what drives me to do what I do and say what I say.
I'm glad there are other people that are saying the same things; perhaps if enough of us say the same things, to enough people, with enough passion and committment, we WILL see a change. After all, aren't our KIDS worth it?