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What IS Education?

The topic of education is one that’s been on my mind a lot these past few weeks. Probably because I am in the career of education and I’ve been second guessing my views and even my career lately. It could just be pre-Christmas break stress, but I’m not sure. I feel like I’ve been stuck lately, and my viewpoints are being slightly altered due to that stuck feeling.

A question that’s been on my mind lately is, what is the role of a teacher? Yes, we all know it’s to prepare lesson plans, execute the lessons, assess students, and form relationships with those students. But is our goal to get these kids a diploma using any means possible so they graduate high school, or is it to actually teach life lessons? Is it enough that our students get their high school diplomas and then get out? Are we the ones responsible for teaching them life lessons? Is it our job to show kids that life isn’t fair, and life after high school can be tough?

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, and that’s why I am struggling. On one hand, you want your kids to do well on the assessments. You want them to get that diploma and have a high school degree completed. Some would argue, you pass them along just to get them out of your class (or school). But if they don’t learn anything about life or the world on the way to these passing grades, what does that diploma mean? Isn’t there more to life than learning math, science, language arts, history, and a language? What do those things prepare our kids for? What about valuable life lessons such as “life isn’t always fair” or “deal with what life throws at you”? At times, I feel we are teaching our students to be entitled. We pass them along, let them get away with things because “they’re just a teenager”, and then once they become adults, they struggle. Because learning those lessons and developing those values needs to be something that happens before adulthood, not during.

But is it OUR job to teach our students those lessons? Or is it someone else’s job? A Florida teacher believed that her students should learn lessons, and should not receive passing grades for doing the bare minimum. She was fired for entering grades of zero value into her gradebook for students who did not complete work. She stated she did not receive the work that was due and she was forced to give these students a grade of a 50, but she stated “I don’t give a grade for nothing”. Was she right? Was it her job to show these kids what happens when you fail to follow direction? Should they be passed along anyway? There are so many opinions and so many variables that go into it, that I’m even confused about what I personally think.

I’m an educator, but I have no idea what education is anymore.

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