What kids need

Posted on Aug 12, 2013 by Mark Muehl - Best Practices

“Sit and get.”
“Corruption of our schools.”“The newest ‘newest thing’ turns out to be ‘child-centered,’ ‘project-based,’ ‘cooperative,’ and ‘hands on.’ The only difference is the technological veneer.”These are quotes from a recent blog post. The author tells the reader to critique and dismiss many contemporary classroom innovations as misguided distractions from what really works in learning. So-called “21st century learning,” he argues, is no more than the latest in a long series of “cyclical attacks of educational nonsense.”Welcome to the debates within education! Standards-based versus liberal arts. Phonics versus whole-language. Rote memorization and drill and practice versus reason. Many learned folks are debating, and have debated, changes within educational systems. They’ve been doing it for decades, and will probably continue to debate for years to come.There are many reasons for these debates, but here a few that come to mind ...1. The inadequate U.S. educational-performance ranking against other nations of the world.2. Standards that are challenging the past content and methods of teachers.3. The place of technology in education.4. The growing responsibilities that schools take on for the sake of kids.What would you add?For our Lutheran schools, we, too, debate these and other topics. What's the place of project-based learning in classrooms? How much technology exposure is good in the classroom? Does technology get in the way of other important learned skills? Educators wrestle with data that influence decisions. Communities look at the schools and debate how the schools need to better serve as workforce developers.What I know is this: no one person or entity has cornered the market on the best way to teach and deliver education (not even Bob Marzano—for all you teachers out there). Even though one may say “what’s best for kids” is the best for schools, this can be a dangerous mantra. What’s best for kids often becomes the avenue for an unfocused educational model. “What’s best for kids” should be a study of “what do kids need?”Debate this all you want ... please! I look forward to many reactions and responses to this newsletter. However, I know, and am certain, that the one thing that each of us needs, kids included, is expected to be the focus of our Lutheran schools. Although we cannot succeed in our mission without delivering strong academic programs, our one thing needed is not a thing but a Person—Jesus Christ. He needs to be talked about, He needs to be shared, He needs to be infiltrating all we do and say. We won’t do it perfectly, but we will do it with faith in knowing that the one thing that is needed will also provide all that we need ... including teachers who will do their best to teach the kids entrusted to their care.Welcome back to school, everyone!