A strange thing occurred on the social medias last week. I noticed several discussions on what constitutes a “good school.” I don’t know if there was something in the news about it, or if there was just a temporary zeitgeist that got people to thinking about schools more than they normally do. Maybe it’s this strange election season . . . .
For whatever reason, the discussions popped up and I read comments, articles, and replies on the topic. I didn’t add anything. I have found in my history with social media that when I comment on serious posts and/or articles my distinct world view and sardonic voice can be . . . lost and/or misinterpreted. Also, I’ve made my fair share of social media stumbles that I don’t care to repeat. So I try to keep a voyeuristic social media presence when it comes to all things of a serious nature.
I read and read and came to the conclusion that no one really knows with any specificity what a good school looks like. People have different values, after all. So I thought, as an education veteran, I would attempt to create a good school. I boiled it down to a list. We all like lists, right? Buzzfeed, I’m looking at you.
Before going any further though, I must caution you, dear reader. This list is by no means finished. It is by no means perfect. It is merely a collection of thoughts on the net. I am not 100% committed to any of these concepts and would gladly take suggestions and criticisms.
- Though I hate to start with a negative . . . a good school must NOT be politically neutral. A good school must support the politicians and public figures that both verbally and literally (that’s the key) support them. It is time to break the legal shackles that prevent this. School systems should be allowed to endorse political candidates.
- A good school must put education over athletics. It seems obvious, doesn’t it . . . ?
- A good school must employ teachers who are also scholars. If you are teaching science, you better damn well be a scientist. If you’re teaching writing, you better damn well be a writer. Knowledge without application and understanding, after all, is useless.
- A good school must employ administrators who never leave the classroom. In other words, the principal should teach at least one class a day . . . or maybe a week . . . I guess I’d be fine with a week. If this means there is no principal in the traditional sense, but a committee of teachers that runs the school, then so be it.
- A good school must be allowed to operate in a way that is best suited to support the students attending classes there. Does that mean some schools will have different classes than others? Does it mean, certain schools will be required to do less or more by way of state and national requirements? Yes.
- Speaking of state and national requirements . . . that one is tricky. I support a national plan for public schools. For instance, in English 9, across the nation, I’m not against the idea that all students should learn about thesis development or some such thing. It could be a required aspect of students’ education. That said, it should be up to the teachers how that knowledge is disseminated. I guess that’s the ultimate take away here–how the knowledge is disseminated should be up to the person doing the teaching.
- A good school should be rigorous. I have found that most people can and will do what is expected of them. High expectations are a must. for all parties involved: students, teachers, and administrators. Additionally, a good school must be supportive. For example, understand the tree climbing fish scenario and/or understand that expecting teachers to get multiple degrees without financial support is ludicrous.
- A good school has zero tolerance for bullying.
- A good school does not bow to the whims of parents who have no concept of what education is like beyond what it was like when they were students in classrooms many moons and seasons prior to today. Nor does a good school let a teacher who has lost his or her way keep teaching.
- A good school is there, on paper anyway, to teach children how to take in and interpret information. That said, in the meantime, students also develop relationships with their teachers, friends, and administrators. They learn how to interact with people they disagree with. They learn how to behave in professional environments and non-professional ones. In other words, they learn how to survive. A good school must employ teachers, administrators, counselors, food workers, custodians, and IT professionals who all understand that school is about so much more than traditional book learning.
- Oh, and finally, good schools should have uniforms.