In my education class, one of our weekly assignments is to listen to a recording of a group of high school students talking about teaching and learning. The dialogue I just finished listening to seemed very related to the conversation we had in class today about Berry’s proposed college curriculum. His writing communicated to me that he had no understanding of what many students need to get from school. For example, in class I wrote: “for me, all signs point to a job with health benefits and a 401K. This curriculum probably wouldn’t get me that.” I so appreciated hearing what these high school students had to say about what they wanted/needed from school because it provided relief from Berry’s esoteric text. Here are a few quotes which I found particularly shiny. The prompt was: What do you want to see in your classrooms?
- “I think they should focus more on careers, like you’re learning stuff to get a job once you leave school. I feel like the way we’re doing things now, you should have kids think about what they want to do once they leave school and prepare them more for what they want to do not just a whole bunch of random stuff.”
- “Everything that is going to be on that test. All the topics.”
You could read mine and these students’ quotes as sort of sad, I guess. Is school just supposed to prepare us for jobs? For tests? What about hope and change and transformation? I haven’t completely figured out my answer to these questions, but what I do know is that it’s a lot easier to teach “everything that is going to be on that test” as opposed to “the dynamics of the earth as a self-emerging, self-sustaining, self-educating, self-governing, self-healing, and self-fulfilling community of all the living and nonliving beings of the planet” (frankly, I’m not even sure I understand what this means). Further, I know that when I get what I need from school, I’m willing to try and make sense of big scary questions. The questions about how to save the world.