Education 2020 – Part I: Criticizing Pedagogy
Dangers of Discussing Pedagogy
Before any discussion of education begins, one must accept that if a parent questions the pedagogy (the methods and practice of teaching) of their child’s school that they risk being attacked, especially by other parents. My personal experience has been that other parents may become passionate about how wonderful the school is, even if there is clear documentation of problems within the school.
Sadly, parents who do criticize their child’s school often lack the knowledge and understanding of pedagogy to intelligently discuss issues and concerns. This has created a long history of parent’s crying ‘wolf’ about problems in the school. Now, all parents are assumed to be uninformed and overprotective, and their concerns and issues to be insignificant.
However, parents do have a legitimate perspective on the education of their children. It must be assumed that the parent will be biased toward their own child, but that does not completely negate the perspective.
Who Are the Experts For Pedagogy?
Ideally, pedagogy should be influenced by people who have expertise in education. Experience and or advanced degrees in the field are factors, but should one educator’s opinions determine the pedagogy for all educators? Research is also a factor; however, simple data (graduation rates, test scores, etc.) is not research because this data is not peer-reviewed. Without peer review, critical questions are left unanswered regarding the validity of the data.
In our country’s current political climate, the idea of equal opportunity in education for all has been supplanted by education to meet the needs of corporations and religious interests. The decades-long effort of lower taxes and attacks on public schools have led conservatives to invade the school boards and districts to plant a new agenda that benefits particular groups. To support their agenda, conservatives often use single viewpoints of an expert touting his or her ‘years’ of educational experience, or advance degrees to support their political agenda.
Who Speaks For the Children?
Is there a legitimate voice in determining the pedagogy of our schools? Yes and no. Teachers and students are the core of education of our youth. Mentoring, not rigor should be the core of pedagogy in any legitimate school. Pedagogy should not be guided by what will make a student a better worker, but by what will develop the skills and ability of the student to make them a better person. Parents are biased, but parents should serve as an assistant to teachers regarding their child’s education.
Most administrators and politicians should not have a significant role in pedagogy simply because they may have a corrupted interest in what is best for the student. Cutting costs, serving political and/or religious interests, etc. should not be part of the teacher/student interaction.
Finally, research, not data, should be at the core of pedagogy. The research should be unbiased for gender, race, and/or socioeconomic status. Graduation rates are meaningless unless there it can be documented that graduating from high school has led to personal, economic, and social success in adult life after graduation. College-bound rates are meaningless unless the student actually succeeds in college and completes a degree. Test scores and standardized tests are meaningless unless it can be proven that high test scores relate to success in adult life.
The Education 2020
It is dangerous territory to initiate a discussion on pedagogy and education in the United States of America; however, it is absolutely necessary. The future is determined by the wisdom of the present. Now is the time to discuss and correct the derailment of pedagogy in our schools.
The purpose of the Education 2020 series is to continue the discussion, identify the problems, and seek solutions.