What do students need to succeed in school and in life? That is a question that educators have struggled with since societies began offering education to its citizens. Most of us wouldn’t argue with the idea that we all need to read, write and know basic math skills. After that it gets a bit muddier. What content must be “covered” to ensure an educated populace?
If you take a moment to consider your own education, what you loved about it, what you absorbed at the time, and what you quickly forgot and relearned later in life, you will begin to understand the limitations of a singular attempt at becoming an educated person. We have all learned a body of facts about history, geography, varying sciences and more. How many of those facts do you recall? Of those you remember, why do you suppose they are easily recalled? If you happen to have loved learning about Greek mythology as a child, chances are you held onto that information and have added to it throughout your life. If you were not interested in it, the opposite may have occurred; you remembered what was needed for a report or a test, forgot most of it and can perhaps pull up one or two facts years later.
There are national standards for education in all disciplines. Schools and educators throughout our country use those standards to determine what to teach and at what age or grade they should be included in the curriculum. What standards don’t address is how to ignite the interest, curiosity and passion of the children who are the intended learners. Education is much more than sharing facts. Attending school means so much more than being presented information. It is the place where we are inspired by ideas, current and past, by questions that ignite a curiosity and passion to seek answers, and by educators who are learners themselves. It’s imperative that those who call themselves teachers continue to be learners. None of us will ever learn all that is to be learned. Each of us has the capacity to continue to seek knowledge, to ask questions and to ignite curiosity in ourselves and others. Learning for life is preparation for the future and is the best standard we can set for students in our schools.