The mission/goal/objective/target in my classes is simple: Students will learn to read and write with breadth and depth. Those 11 words guide almost everything I do as a teacher. It’s Marsh’s Mission Statement.
There are, of course, a few secondary goals/objectives. I want students to like reading and writing more when they leave my class than they did when they entered. I also want them to understand the political process and able to fully engage in it when they become adults. I want them to empathize with each other and with people from different cultures. I want them to be problem-solving, self-thinking, self-valuing adults.
However, those are all secondary to the King of goals, which is for them to read and write with breadth and depth.
It keeps things simple in my classes, which is not to say that things are “easy.” My class is simple but not easy, which also describes a great deal of life, doesn’t it? For example, I run every day, whether I’m sick or healthy, whether I’m busy or relaxed, whether it’s 110 degrees or 30 degrees. It’s simple to do that. But it’s not easy. There are far too many days when I would rather stay in bed, far too many days when I barely have time to eat, let alone run.
I’ve been thinking that perhaps we need a National Mission Statement in regards to education.
Why don’t we already have one? I googled “Mission Statement for Public Education” and, of course, nothing significant comes up. There’s an entry from the U.S. Department of Education, but it’s about the mission of that particular department, not about public schools.
So many reforms are coming down at public schools that it’s hard to keep up with them all, and I wish that a unifying goal/objective existed. Is the purpose of public education to create skilled workers? Is it to prepare students to enter college? Is it to create global citizens who can compete in a global market? Is it to develop critical thinkers? Is it to get students ready to take tests (let’s hope it’s not this one)? Is it some combination of all five? Or maybe it’s a combination of those five plus many more?
I believe the goal is to create critical thinkers, but that’s just my opinion. I have a feeling that there would be many people who disagree.
Too many people, I fear, would choose the option about taking tests. Tests are rule right now. Data rules. Accountability rules.
But no one goal rules education as a whole.
Perhaps we need one…one goal, one objective, one mission.
Because right now, nothing really rules, which means everything rules, which means there’s a lot of energy going in a lot of different directions.
When someone makes me ruler—King, if you will—I’d insist on a National Mission Statement. And if that’s too idealistic and therefore, unrealistic, I’d at least insist on a national dialogue about it. It would be simple. But not easy.