By Mark Heintz
It sounds like an easy question to answer: What's the purpose of school? Yet, it might be one of the hardest questions to answer. I started reading Timeless Learning and the brief history of schools is fascinating. Even when you look at the origins of public education, there were very different reasons for it to exist. Fast forward 150 years, it's purpose is still being debated.
So, what is the purpose of school? Are schools institutions of learning? Just academic learning? Are they solely there to prepare kids for the workforce, college, or the military? Are they there to socialize or norm behaviors? Are they there to inspire or open kids minds to possibilities? Are they there for self-actualization? Are they all of those things? Even if you can answer the question, do you live it? Are all of your actions aligned with what you believe about schools?
This post isn't going to answer the question directly or get to my beliefs. But, rather bring up one point that might be missing from most of the questions above. It's simple. Clear. And very difficult to do on a daily basis. See children for who they are.
the different, not the deficit knowledge.
their interests, not mine that I hope they find interesting.
their passions, not mine that I impress upon them.
their hopes, not mine for them.
their pathways, not the ones I wish they would take.
their journeys, not the ones I push on them because it worked for me.
Children are unique, incredible individuals that add so much to the already amazing world. Yet, in a school setting, it can be difficult to always value what they want and allow them to purpose their interests. Like I said, it's hard. I'm fortunate to work in a district that offers so many opportunities and teachers are willing to make changes to allow children to be themselves. It's hard to make changes. Still, the district and the schools in the district continue to make conditions that serve children and see them for who they are.