This week’s #edublogsclub is about challenging situations in education. Wow. Well, as a veteran educator, I feel like I know a thing about challenges in education just from surviving this long in this profession.

I’ve been pondering education and what I consider to be the overarching challenges no matter the age or subject and these are my top 3 challenges. I found pictures from my phone to illustrate!

The greatest challenge in my opinion is knowing how much pressure to apply on students and teachers. Too little pressure and the results are lack luster. Too much pressure and the teacher and/or student folds under the weight of expectations.

I love the idea of clay on a pottery wheel as a metaphor for education. When we throw clay on a pottery wheel, it is important that the clay be wedged, have the right moisture content and be placed on the correct spot on the wheel. If any of these aren’t done correctly, the piece that is going to be thrown won’t look/work right. Further, as the wheel spins, only so much pressure can be applied to the clay at a time. Too much pressure from one side without balancing the clay in other hand will force the clay to move across the batten (base) and eventually the clay will spin off the wheel!

Learning to use the right amount of pressure.

Such can be said for education! The expectations on students and teachers are spinning out of control. The increased pressure to perform better with fewer resources has caused schools to spin faster and faster and teachers and students are being slung from side to side and are holding on by a raveling thread.

Next, those that legislate education seem to forget that educators can only do so much without the proper tools. I thought this picture from my phone was perfect. A few weeks ago I need to get a cork out of a bottle, but I didn’t have a cork opener. I did a little google searching and found a you tube video that showed how to use a key to get the cork out of a bottle. I figured why not, worse case is that I ruin the cork and I can’t drink the glass of wine. So I used my house key, followed the instructions and amazingly it worked! The cork, while it didn’t look great, survived and I was able to use it to close the bottle back up.

Not having the right tool.

This is totally the way education works! In order to get to the “prize” of good test results or  an appropriate level on the state’s accountability scale, educators are expected to figure out how to reach students without ruining the love of learning in the process and without the correct tools! The concept of “making do” is such a part of education that it’s not discussed, it just is.

And finally, my third challenge to education is that the curriculum that needs to be taught is not and can not be the priority because we are teaching children and these children deserve more than just robots that spout platitudes and absolutes.

Understanding that what you want and need to teach is wrapped up in knots and is buried under the weight of a student’s life, the educator’s expectations and the government’s policies.

This picture from my phone is of a large mess of yarn and string tangled together. This is the very definition of teaching! Every piece of yarn represents one of my students and the pieces of yarn are tangled, knotted and completely and utterly dependent on each other to be untangled and to be given lives of their own. Sure I can pretend that the mess doesn’t exist and I can try to pull out just one piece of yarn at a time, but the reality is that in order to teach one student, I have to figure out how to teach the masses, the messes and the tangled jumble of lives. It is only when we have the yarn ball at least somewhat unraveled that we can begin to move onto teaching and learning curriculum.

So there you have it. This is where I see the challenges in education.




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