We must not lose sight of the bigger picture. In the grand scheme of things, my job is relatively easy. I get 2 or 3 months for summer vacation a year. I require only a minimum of computer competency. I usually go home exhausted, but fairly satisfied. I genuinely enjoy my job.
The big picture involves creating a better place to live. Of course, “better” is relative. “Better” is often a compromise. If I do my job with little interest, then I’m doing a poor job. If I don’t keep my skills current, then I’m short-changing my students. If my students lose interest, I have to try and help them regain it. I am, however, only 1/3 of the overall educational equation.
The students I service now will need a baseline of skills and knowledge to prepare them for a successful future as an adult in the United States.
The bigger picture depends on its constituent smaller pictures. Teachers compete with outside influences on childhood development, such as: the media, apathetic parents, a crippled education system, peer pressure and a host of other elements. A student’s ability to grow, analyze, incorporate, process and—ultimately—perform depend on an intricate dance of variables.
If we’re going to create that “better world” for future generations, I pose a transparently rhetorical question: Why aren’t we spending more money on education? Don’t children deserve to reap the benefits of more than what amounts to a fraction of our country’s Defense spending? The bigger picture requires us to consider a plan that assimilates our core values into a more balanced framework.
This is where the other 2/3 of the equation come in. Parents/Guardians and policymakers are needed to make this argument a more viable reality. Dedicated parents are among the hardest working citizens I can envision. They entrust their most precious treasures to trained professionals in the classroom. Policymakers are charged with designing quality curricula within their limited budgets. The necessary elements for success are in place, though. One oft-overlooked variable in all of these observations is the student body itself. They are the ones to inherit our shortcomings. They are the ones to be affected by our blindness to the bigger picture. They will one day look back on our snapshot in time, and they will have to decide how to deal with its repercussions. Are we adequately preparing them to deal with the snapshot we are taking today? Or, will they be looking back on the societal equivalent of that embarrassing prom photo we wished we’d never taken in the first place?