I am working on a series of articles about education and putting them up here, on Facebook and LinkedIn because I want feedback on how to make them better. It is my hope that, through this feedback, I may gain valuable insights into how people think and what they need to help them with educational matters, as well as new knowledge that will help me improve the overall content and quality of my work.
The primary target audience is parents worldwide. If you think about that, I have given myself a very big challenge: how to write an article that will be accessible to almost everyone and, more importantly, how to make sure that they’ll actually be able to use the information effectively without it becoming such a burden for the average reader that their heads start spinning, they close their eyes and stop reading. This is not to say that parents are stupid, but I have to honestly acknowledge that reading for some people is not easy, and some techniques that a parent could be asked to use might be beyond their ability to perform for lack of knowledge, comprehension and/or skill. There are many parents who are disadvantaged throughout the world, so I have to keep in mind the challenges they might face because of what I write.
The secondary target audience is novice teachers and administrators, as well as politicians, policy makers and others who don’t actually know a lot about education and need a point to start at in order to learn more about education.
I realize that it may not be feasible to address these two target audiences at once, and that at some point I may need to separate things.
I am not targeting academics, nor highly skilled educators and administrators who have dedicated themselves to progressive, transformational, and learner-development centered teaching with the possible goal of independent learning (learner-led development and learning), because they probably know more than I do and may not appreciate my populist approach to writing these articles.
For some articles, like the “Evaluating Schools” series, this will be almost exclusively targeted at parents, although I have been told that novice administrators and teachers might find them useful. The “Evaluating Schools” article is actually intended for parents who are looking for a school but, I suppose, they could be used to help evaluate the school someone’s child is already at.
As a result, I am not going to use 3rd-person writing, nor will I have footnotes and bibliographical numbers sprinkled throughout, and I don’t want these articles to be boring, clinical or dry. I hope that they will edify, aid, pique curiosity and perhaps occasionally make someone smile or laugh.
Since this is for public consumption, not an academic journal or a university presentation, I am not citing resources. Don’t see that I’m achieving those goals? Then please provide me with suggestions on how to achieve them.
I am doing this because I have observed a serious lack of awareness amongst parents, policy makers, novice teachers and even classically trained teachers and administrators about certain things, like how to determine if a school is good, whether a teacher is an excellent one, and what a teacher can do to improve. Since it is hard to improve education in an area without parental comprehension, consensus and buy-in, and that is hard without socialization, my primary target is parents. I consider the most difficult targets to be certain administrators, politicians, business people and union leaders (but, certainly, I am not willing to say all or even 50% of any of these groups fits the category, and there are those amongst teachers and parents who are also very difficult).
Parents, policy makers and politicians, as well as business people, tend to make mistakes when it comes to education. They may think: “What was good enough for me is good enough for the kids”, “Drop ’em into the wild and they’ll either get eaten or turn out great!”, “We need more workers!”, or any of a number of inane and selfish rationales to keep education the way it is, all the while claiming that public education is in good shape. Yet, if public education is so great, why do the rich people send their kids to the most expensive schools and universities, the middle class who can afford it send their kids to private schools they hope are good enough, and the rest rarely have any choice? No, even educators who are classically trained may fail to see the “forest because of the trees”, and we must be honest and say that corruption, selfish interests and even more destructive ones currently destructively impact education worldwide.
Honestly, I believe that education is the key to improving the world. I believe that, with appropriate changes worldwide, we can turn this sinking ship of humanity into a pinnacle of amazement. I do not believe that politicians and policy makers can ever hope to achieve what I dream of without buy-in and assistance from parents, teachers and administrators who care, because the money-driven influence of businesses will always force compromises that will not always (or, perhaps, often) be in the best interests of humanity’s future (although most certainly they will be to their short-term financial benefit).
Request for Help
Recognizing my own limitations, I realize that what I’ve produced has problems and that I’ve missed some things that are needed. I am trying to make sure that no one article is so long that people run away from it as if it feels like a burden, yet not so short that it is fluff, either.
I am hoping to find people who are willing to provide me with feedback. If you are willing to help me attempt to improve the world (not to sound lofty, but it’s truly my goal), please make a comment below, on Facebook or LinkedIn (Glenn McGrew II). I would greatly appreciate it if you keep the feedback constructive, down-to-Earth and civil. And practical! Theory is wonderful – but it is only theory, not law or axiom – and it tends to lack something when applied to reality.
“Be the change you want to see.” Oh, what a difficult thing that is! 🙂
I am not targeting any particular stage of education. There are reasons for this which I will eventually make clear. If I make a comment about a particular age or stage, I will try to make that clear – but I might forget.
I have seen people say “I don’t want my children to be experimented on!” I would like to point out that, for a theory to be proven or disproven, it MUST be through experimentation. No matter how often you run a theory through the experimental lab in your mind, it will never catch all of the nuances and challenges that we humans put into everything. We over-complicate, disrupt, distract, devalue and generally make a mess of even the best of theories and hopes.
In other words, if there is no PROPER experimentation, there can be no refinement, no discoveries of what works, and no hope to improve education, or the world. Did not virtually all of the inventions of the last several hundred years not come as a result of experimentation – sometimes even life-threatening and life-taking ones?
You might say: “Well, then, I’ll home-school!” Great. Then YOU will be the experimenter because you probably don’t really know what you’re doing, and you’ll only have yourself to blame for each mistake you make. 😛
These articles are a culmination of my experiences in education, my research about it and conversations with educators and those in related fields, as well as deep thought on the subject. However, I don’t know everything about education. I seek to improve my understanding on as frequent a basis as is humanly possible, balancing earning money and my family with this.
My experiences may not match those of other educators, so I may not have envisioned things that should be in my articles. Likewise, just because you have never experienced things I write about (especially corrupt practices in education) doesn’t mean they don’t exist – I write based on the reality I have experienced.
So, if you have contributions to make that might fill in holes in what I present, I welcome and encourage them! Please don’t expect, however, that I’ll remove things I know to be true just because you have never encountered them. Nevertheless, you’re welcome to share your opinion, as long as you are civil and respectful.