Reflections on the Public School System

I have spent the first couple weeks of summer break reflecting on and thinking about how we do things in the K to 12 education system.

One of the things I have been thinking about is the way we treat people who arrive late.

Imagine if when you arrived at your workplace even a couple minutes late, you had to go down to a central office and get a little piece of paper from that office to take to your team leader or supervisor in order to get allowed into your workplace.

How long would you put up with that system? That begs the question; why do kids who arrive late to school have to report to the office to get a late slip – making them even later for their day of learning.

And then what about in schools where teachers choose to not allow late arriving students into their classrooms while they are giving the instructions for the days lesson.

Interesting concept. This guarantees that the student has completely missed what the day is going to be about. Why not let the late arriving student into the classroom and let them begin to get their head into the days lesson?

Another issue I’ve been thinking about is the bell system. It is interesting to note that prisons, saw mills,and the K to 12 public education system are the three institutions left using a bell or loud buzzer to indicate it is time to change activities.

Prisons, saw mills, and the K to 12 public education system. Now that’s something to think about.

At a school based meeting I proposed that we stop using bells to signal the start and finish of classes. The other educators in the room looked at me as if I had lost my mind. They said that without bells there would be chaos in the schools.

It is interesting to note that the post secondary school system does not use bells or buzzers to indicate it is time to transition from one class to another. No chaos there.

These issues remind me of the story about the family cooking a turkey. They cut the end off the turkey and when one of the kids asked why they had to cut the end off the turkey, the reply was, “because that’s what my mom did.”

The kids said that’s interesting. Let’s ask your mom why she cut the end off the turkey.

They asked the grandmother. And the grandmother said “said well because that’s what my mom always did.”

So they went back another generation and asked their great grandmother “why do you cut the end off the turkey?”

The great grandmother replied because I didn’t have a roasting pan big enough to fit a full sized turkey in. So I cut it down to fit.

Sometimes we do things simply because we’ve always done them that way. It is useful to think about what we do and think about why we do them that way. Ask yourself, is what we are doing still serving the needs of our students?