Visited by Ghost of Education Present
Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 10, 2017
As our night of dreams continues, so goes our old favorite, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol; and, we continue to consider some real-life parallels to American education. So, let’s continue our story in the quiet of the night …
Not long after being delivered home by the ‘Ghost of Education Past,’ we drift back into a somber rest. It is not long until the ‘Ghost of Education Present’ awakens us as the sounds of bullets ring in the streets almost hidden by the screeching of tires. We are jerked from our resting spots and hustled into the backseat of a large car as we suddenly arrive at a school. We drive into the large gates and arrive at a school almost identical to the first parochial school we visited earlier. Although we see students and teachers in contemporary American apparel, a myriad of technology and instructional resources, and all the amenities of our pampered world, the sight is almost identical.
As we go to our next school, it is more like the last school in our urban tour except for the contemporary clothing, cell phones, and disheveled premises. The students are demonstrating less compliant attitudes, and the threat of a fight hangs heavily in the air. Every teacher has a desk phone, an intercom switch, and an emergency alarm button. Some of the students are busily trying to overcome the negative overtones and attending to the teachers who are trying desperately to maintain order and connect with the engaged few. The saddest observation is that the students who are not complying obviously have the potential to succeed, but it is being hampered by their general feeling that no one really cares or believes they can succeed. They are not fooled by the adults who are giving lip service to guidance.
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Before we are returned to our sleep, the ‘Ghost of Education Present’ tells us it does not have to be this way. Somewhere in the world, children just like ours are successfully learning, excelling,and graduating to post-secondary success; however, he warns us that we will never achieve such success by continuing to press forward in “the way we’ve always done it.” He gently advises, we must search to find the twenty-first century strategies if we wish to have success with our twenty-first century students.
As we return to our resting spot, we wake to find that it is late. We need to prepare for rest to be ready for tomorrow — and little did we know, our next visitor. It will not be long before we have a chance to see visions of ‘Education Future.’ We begin to dream of opportunities that recognize and acknowledge our children as the individuals they are and that serve them accordingly. Would it be possible — a network of environments and experiences where we abandon the one-size-fits-all designs and replace them with engaging networks of community support by which all children are well-served? Individual children, individual families, individual communities, individual success — a greater ‘Education Future’ that achieves the reality of leaving no child behind? As we have heard before, it will take a village!
- Community prayers for Natchez at 7 p.m. Mondays at the Natchez Grand Hotel.
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- Open Mic Night to engage Natchez at 5 p.m. Thursdays at Natchez Brewering Company.
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Dr. Marvin Jeter is an education consultant and member of Natchez United.