What's the Purpose of School?

It's #TeacherAppreciationDay!

Good thing I have something to tell you that happened just last week!

Our school sends out a bi-annual magazine. In this spring edition I learned that Mr B, my high school history teacher, is going to retire. 

Now history has never been a favourite subject of mine, no thanks to every history teacher I have ever had, except Mr B. 

He only taught us for a year or two, unfortunately, but during this time he managed to convey contents in a hands-on and targeted manner. Up to this day I can remember a page in our history book that was talking about food stamps after WW II. 

Photo Source

I was thinking about the share of deadbeat teachers we had, and how lucky we were on the other hand to be taught by caring and resourceful people like Mr B and others, so I went ahead and sent an email to the editor of this publication saying how much I appreciated attending Mr B's class and that I wished him well. 

They forwarded my message right away to Mr B who then promptly replied thanking me and talking about how we were some of the first kids he had to pleasure to work with. He seemed to remember my classmates and me, which impressed me. He must have met several thousands of students throughout all those years!

Mr B at Lenzburg Youth Festival 2008
Photo Source

I tried to imagine how teaching high school kids must have changed over the years. 

Pre-Internet we had to look for information in the library and take hand-written notes. 
These days students have to weigh which "facts" that they have googled are trustworthy.

When I was a student, if I had bad grades, I was the only one to blame.
These days angry parents blame the teacher for not teaching their precious child the right way.

How does school even come up with a sustainable curriculum in this fast-paced, ever changing world?

Of course, the first years are a given. Kids need to learn how to read, write and do math. Languages are important, networked-thinking, self-management.

It may be an HR thing, but apart from the basics, I think social skills become more and more important. Communication! Listen to others, being able to address and discuss an issue, accept other opinions, find a consensus - those are so important qualities in private life and in the business world. 

Do we necessarily need school for this? 

Nope. Except recess was intentionally designed to practice communication skills ;-)

Where can we learn to communicate and interact with others? Literally everywhere!

In the sandbox, the swimming pool, playgroup, daycare, soccer field, (<-- we like to joke and say they are whiners, quick to complain about the opponent having shoved them ;-)
ice hockey rink, anywhere where other kids / people are. 

Not in front of the TV or staring at the smart phone, though. 

Maybe the purpose of school is so kids can't watch TV during that time?

Kidding aside, I just think that in order to become a functioning person, there is so much more to learn than school currently provides. I like this graphic:

In view of this, I don't agree that parents have a secondary role in their children's education!

Coming to an end I'd like to give a shout-out to Mr S, my son's elementary teacher. He has been doing a fantastic job keeping those 6 - 8 year old boys and girls together, teaching them far more than the alphabet!

After summer break (10 more weeks to go, booo!) Colin and his friends are starting 3rd grade with a new teacher. She's got some big shoes to fill!