Posts in: Education

The Classroom Culture

Kathy stands at the front of our circle of chairs around the board room table. It is the last day of class and despite the laughing, there is a sense of sadness in the room. We all are going to leave for spring break the next day and may never convene in the same room together again. Our assignment for the day was called “the non-a-paper project.” We had to show something we learned in class through any medium but a paper. Basically, we could do whatever we wanted and be as creative as we wanted.

The first person to go was Olivia, she had us do an art project on a fixed v. growth mindset. The idea was to create an art piece on a sheet of paper that reminded us how that we should have a growth mindset, so aim to think of obstacles as places for growth not as the end of our journeys. The picture of her art is below, personally, mine was not pretty enough to be put on the internet. 

Next, Dova had us create cardboard arcade games. On the first day of her observations, her 3rd-grade class was presenting on their cardboard arcade games. For us, we split into groups of 3 and had 5 minutes to create a game. Personally, I felt our group had the best game and we ended up playing with it after class also, called “Get Iced.” 

For my project, I had each person write a personal fact, peculiar fact, and favorite memory from observations. Each person put their papers in a bowl and we picked one up at a time and pointed at the person we thought had written it. The goal of my project was to show how interpersonal relationships between students and teachers create a better learning environment. From my observations, I realized that teachers who had personal relationships with their students had a less disruptive classroom and the students were more focused. Therefore, I wanted to show our class because we became close to each other, we had a more productive learning environment.

The other projects included learning sign language, doing brain games to test our observational skills, writing one act of kindness we did in the past day, etc. This was a really fun way to end a fun and interactive class. After spending the past week working on a research project and presentation, we were able to be creative and have fun one last time together. Kathy had plenty of jokes that had us cracking up and in tears. She even had herself in tears multiple times, but those jokes will stay between our classmates. 

Reflecting on this class, I am so grateful I chose to take the chance to come the first day and see if there was an open spot than not take it. The value of experiential learning was so valuable to combine the discussions and practicum. What gave the class life was our professor Kathy and my other classmates. Without an engaging professor and welcoming class community, learning can be stunted. In the end, I learned classroom culture is created by a professor and is translated by the students. Classroom culture is created not given, and it is a special and powerful skill to create *the* classroom culture like we were lucky to experience.

-Lucy

Nick and Avery working on their game.      Olivia and our game, Get Iced.    Olivia’s art activity on a fixed v. growth mindset.

30 Hours and Connections

Our last day of class observation has come and gone. 30 hours of K-12 class observation under our belts. Looking back on the past week I did not know how the class would end. It had been a rollercoaster of laughing and professionalism and overall block pandemonium. We spent week 3 doing more of the same class schedule. The biggest part of the week was that we had to end our time in our K-12 classrooms. For my fellow classmates, their students gave them notes and big hugs. This block has been so special and nostalgic. Going back to school for 7 hours a day took a toll on our energy, but I know for each of us it was an irreplaceable experience. We each created a bond with our host teachers. 

For me, I appreciated being able to be part of the Colorado Springs community and learning about the city I have begun to call my home. The school district we were in is not based on the location of their house but instead where their parents want to send their children. Compared to my hometown, this is different because parents can choose which school is best for their children. One of my projects in class was to lead a discussion on the debate around school choice. School choice is when parents choose where they live to determine what public schools they will send their child to. Furthermore, it is linked deeply with socio-economic privilege because people with more money have more options of where they can afford to send their kids beside the neighborhood public school. This class has linked discussion and reading learning to experiential learning. In more ways than just observing what teachers do, we are learning how schools and school districts work and what that means for children’s learning and education opportunities. 

The class was also a reflection based class. We spent many discussions in class talking about our own educational experiences. We talked about what types of schools we went to, how our teachers were, and all the contours of our educational experiences. I valued these discussions because I was able to reflect on the system I spent most of my life in so far. My educational experience shaped who I am and lead me to CC. Discussing our school lives also bonded us more as a class for we were sharing about experiences that shaped who we show up to class as today. When I was sitting in on classes, I spent much of my time observing the children and how they interacted with the classroom structure. I saw myself in many of the children and I began to connect who I was as a child to who I am now. Through the observations, I saw my growth from an introverted and socially anxious child to a confident college student. Making those connections for myself made me see how these children are going to learn so much in elementary school and learn way more when they grow up. I was seeing the importance of a productive education system to educate children and let them grow as people. 

We all need space to learn and grow into who we are meant to be. This education class taught me so much about how beneficial experiential learning is and how looking at other K-12 educational experiences can help me understand learn about my own experiences. I was taken full circle and given space to make connections between educational philosophy and my own educational experiences. The block plan has provided me with so many special learning opportunities and this class is in the top 3 incredible ones, behind going on a hike and talking about existential philosophy. I would take this class over and over again if I could.

 

Notes to Susanna from her 2nd grade class.

Experiencing Classrooms

“The block is halfway over” says Kathy as she starts Wednesday’s class. I am taken aback, it feels as if the class just started and now we are closer to the end than the beginning. The week was a whirlwind of 4th grade class observations and discussions. Monday and Wednesday were typical days in a CC class. We discussed our readings on what it means to be a teacher and debriefed our observation days. In a class of 8 students, there is no room to hide and not participate in the discussions. Tuesday and Thursday were spent in our K-12 observation classrooms. I am observing different 4th grade classes at a local elementary school. Everyday we have observation forms we fill out to turn into our teacher. They ask us to observe certain things about the class like interactions between kids and their attention or the decorations in the classroom. It focused our attention to not just what is being taught but to how the classroom is working. For me, it helps to understand the dynamics that make teaching difficult or easier. Lately, I have been reflecting on my time in K-12 also and how I contributed to a focused learning environment or annoyed my teachers.

I love this class for multiple reasons, but the main reason is because we are learning through experience. Spending over 12 hours in a classroom studying what a teacher does to control a classroom and how students contribute to a classroom’s culture is so special. I am able to connect our 3 hour discussions to the real world. One of my classmates is observing in a highschool and he is able to work with students as well as observe. Being in a classroom means we are interacting with students in the Colorado Springs community also. Sometimes Colorado College can feel like a bubble but the college creates opportunities and classes where students can be part of the Springs. For me, I spend significant time talking to my host teachers and asking about the dynamics of the school. Culturally and socio-economically, my school’s makeup is so much different than my friend’s school a mile away. I am grateful to be in this class doing such a cool immersive program and also being able to learn more about the city I am going to be living in for 4 years.

Friday was one of the best days of class this block. We went on a field trip to the Manitou Springs middle school to see their farm program there. The program was created by Barack Ben Amots, son of a music teacher at CC. 24 students at the middle school can take the farm class for their language arts class and they spend 3 hours before lunch learning in a classroom then doing work on the farm. They take care of the goats, build structures, or can read or write around the farm. It is a way for kids at the school to learn in an experiential setting and get outside. Talking to the students they said they like the farm because they do not have to be in a classroom all day and they are able to choose how they want to spend their time. They are encouraged to read and write if they do not want to do manual labor that day. The most incredible part for me was that they work on their teamwork and interpersonal skills also. For example, they do baskets where they gather in a group and either say what they are grateful for or what is making them sad that day and the group maintains an open communication about how they are feeling. I wish I had this program when I was in middle school for it would have helped me with friendships and also be more engaged in my learning.

I am grateful to be at CC receiving this experiential education now. Being able to see how the Colorado Springs community works and how reading relates to the real world is a special way that the block plans lets students learn outside of the classroom.

Intro to K-12 Classroom Culture: Week 1

A week in the Classroom

Another first Monday, the students sit around a conference table with the hopes and worries for a new block written in front of them. It is the smallest class I have been in with only 9 students to fill the air space. The professor, Kathy Greene, comes in dressing with intention and greets the students. With a few quick words of humor, she has broken the stale air and everyone’s mouth has opened into smiles. We spent the first hour going over introductions and the assignment work for the class. Thanks to our icebreakers I can now tell you that Diya in the white headband hates peanut butter and Dova with the black nose ring really likes climbing. Some classes at school drone on, even with only 2 hours of sitting, but today suddenly I was aware it was 11 and it was time to leave. Kathy pulled our attention to our class by blending her light-hearted jokes with the finer points of the class. Our next assignment is to create a poster of a significant moment in our educational career. This class is not just a lecture, it is a combination of reading and active work in a k-12 classroom, then swept together under the direction of our 3-hour daily class meetings. The block looks educational, one could say, but a perfect example of the benefits of the block plan. Being able to learn about classroom culture then practice and observe a K-12 classroom experientially. Colorado College is about experiential learning, and Intro to K-12 Classroom Culture is the poster child.

Our class consists of 3 days of 3-hour classes at school and 2 days of sitting in on a K-12 class for a school day. For our Tuesday class, we spent time going over our readings and going on a walk. Kathy is an enticing teacher and also knows how to read a classroom and could tell we were all losing focus. So we walked around campus in the snow and talked to each other outside of the classroom setting. The cool part of having a class of 8 people is that we are able to bond together outside of the classroom setting. For example, Nick and I spent 15 minutes talking about our favorite board games and now our class is going to have board game nights. The block plan allows us to focus on one class and also create friendships with our classmates that reach beyond schoolwork. 

Thursday was our first day in the K-12 classrooms. I was placed in a 4th-grade gifted class at Stratton Elementary. Susanna, Dova, and I walked in bright and early at 7:30 am to be greeted by the smiling Principal. We were each introduced to the teachers we would be shadowing for the next three weeks. My teacher’s name is Mr. Hoepfner. I spent the day observing as he walked his kids through improper fractions and The Westing Game. I had forgotten what being in class for 7 hours was like. Yet despite the long day of observing, I am grateful to have the opportunity to be immersed in a real K-12 classroom. The block is special for so many reasons, but this class has shown me how much I can learn from experiential learning. The ability to apply concepts in our readings to observation in a classroom is education that is irreplaceable. I am thankful we still have 2.5 weeks of learning inside and outside of a normal classroom and more adventures with my classmates.

Olivia Coutre and Kathy day 1.                      First day of school selfie.                              Our class on a mid-class walk.

Lessons from Mitchell High School

During every period of the Language Arts class we observed at Mitchell High School last Friday, the school’s negative reputation in the Colorado Springs community was brought up as a topic of discussion– both by the teacher, Rob Lessig, and the students themselves. Mitchell’s low test scores mean that the state has them on watch, and a video of a student fight recently received a disproportionate amount of local media attention. I bring up these negative narratives not to give them any more time and space than they have already occupied in the Colorado Springs discourse around education, but to make explicit the message that students and teachers at Mitchell High School constantly receive about themselves: that they are failing. But, as M.R Duncan-Andrade and Ernest Morrell point out in their book The Art of Critical Pedagogy: Possibilities for moving from theory to practice in urban schools (which, by the way, has been a veritable bible of teaching practices for social justice transformation that I am cursing myself for renting from the bookstore instead of buying), urban schools fail in a system that is set up for their failure. Though Colorado Springs is not exactly a metropolis, we discussed in class how “urban” is often used as a whispered stand-in to describe any school, like Mitchell, that has a high population of students of color and students from low-income households. Duncan-Andrade and Morrell stress the urgent need to reform the “Politics and Economics of Failure” on the broad level of policy; in short, they argue that our education system is constructed so that some schools must fail, that resources are allocated inequitably to schools deemed failing, and that practices which measure failure and police students’ behavior and “intellect” such as standardized testing and the school-to-prison pipeline are biased against students of color. But they acknowledge that upper-level change won’t happen for a while, and that on the ground, right now, urban schools, teachers, and students themselves are involved in actively constructing counter-narratives to the grand narratives told about them by an inherently inequitable system.

This work of creating counter-narratives was exactly what we saw in action at Mitchell High School. We got the opportunity to participate for one day in a project led by CC student Jubilee Hernandez, where students created art pieces representing various forms of oppression that were auctioned off that night at Cornerstone Arts Center to benefit a scholarship (previously set up by a group of students at Mitchell) for DACA students. The juniors and seniors in the class were practicing sharing their artist statements, which we were lucky enough to get to hear. Students created pieces representing mental health issues, socioeconomic disparities, the treatment of undocumented immigrants, the sexism of their school dress codes, the impacts of labeling and judgement, and more, while many directly took on the education system which they felt has served them inequitably. They were angry at the fact that standardized testing practices are racist and inaccurate measures of anything, much less intelligence, and that testing was narrowing their school’s curriculum and impeding their creativity and self expression. They were proud to be students at Mitchell, despite their frustration with their school’s lack of resources, and knew that the grand narratives told about them were wrong.

The art show at Cornerstone to support DACA students and art activism

Last year, I was lucky enough to witness another example of change-making at Mitchell High School. I was involved in the Public Achievement program, where Colorado College students coach high schoolers as they create projects that address injustices in their community and world, but outside of Public Achievement, many seniors that year created capstone projects for essentially the same purpose. At an end-of-year event meant to showcase their hard work and build bridges between students and policy-makers, students presented their projects to members of the Colorado Springs Community including representatives from the school board. It was one of these groups that set up the aforementioned Dreamers scholarship, while other groups proposed projects tackling environmental issues, sex trafficking and mental heath awareness, even establishing free childcare and mentorship programs at their school. Mitchell also serves as a Community School and an essential local resource, with a food pantry and health clinic that’s often used as a place where students in the school’s Public Health program can get experience. All of this is to say that Mitchell students are actively involved in their community- a community that often does not have very positive things to say about them. The system certainly isn’t perfect, and the function of Mitchell High School is influenced and impeded by resource allocation and other forces out of their control, but there’s a lot of positive things to say about Mitchell and its students, things which they know, and live, on a daily basis. I was really humbled by this opportunity to have just a tiny entry point into the work that’s happening at this school, and to continue to learn from the counter-narratives they tell as a response to a system designed for their failure.

Empowering Examples of Student Organizing

Throughout our class time last week, groups of us watched documentaries, gave presentations, and taught 90-minute lessons in a project called Teaching for Social Justice. Two of the documentaries (Precious Knowledge and The Children’s March) profiled examples of student organizing that, as our class agreed, everyone should know about. We are young people and students ourselves, and have a lot to learn from examples of students enacting social change in the face of structural barriers, requiring critical awareness of their agency and position in the world. In the wake of Friday’s Climate Strike, these students’ dedication to change-making is, though it sounds cliché, incredibly inspiring. Watching these documentaries taught me that explicit analysis of young peoples’ movements is an essential part of a transformative education geared towards promoting both personal growth and collective social change. So here are some quick and grossly oversimplified summaries of these examples of student activism, as a tiny, tiny start:

The Children’s March


Where: Birmingham, Alabama

When: 1963

What: The Children’s March was a student demonstration conducted at a pivotal point in the Civil Rights Movement that often goes un-reported in mainstream narratives of the movement. Thousands of students, after being covertly trained in non-violent tactics by NSLC leader James Bevel and organized via secret radio codes, skipped school and marched from the 16th Street Baptist Church, protesting gross racial injustice in their city. Despite being urged by their parents and influential Civil Rights Leaders not to protest for their own safety, the children exercised their civic agency anyways. They were uniquely positioned to do so because, unlike their parents, they did not risk losing their jobs; however, the risks and consequences of their activism were still monumental. Students were arrested in droves, and the county jail was filled with almost 1,000 school-aged children on the first day. By the second day, police, led by Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor, resorted to violence, unleashing fire hoses, dogs, and batons on groups of student protesters and continuing to make arrests so large-scale that they were taking students to the jail in school buses. Students were not deterred, and continued to protest in staggering numbers throughout the week, effectively bringing the “normal” workings of Birmingham’s institutions to a halt.

Outcomes: Students were released after intense national public pressure, stemming from President Kennedy himself, after footage of the police brutality was widely publicized. It took images of children being attacked to spark public outrage over racism in Birmingham and across the country. Negotiations ended in the government of Birmingham’s agreement to desegregate public spaces, promote nondiscriminatory hiring practices, and facilitate ongoing public meetings between black and white community leaders. The KKK’s bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church months later, killing three young girls, was a tragic and violent form of retaliation against the success of the Children’s March, which is cited as one of the catalyzing movements for the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and an inspiration for movements across the nation far into the future.

Precious Knowledge

Where: Tucson, Arizona

When: 2009

What: For years, the Mexican American/Raza Studies program at Tucson High School, which emphasized students’ knowledge of their own cultures and value of their life experiences, unity and love for humanity based on the principles of Paulo Friere, and social justice via organized action and critique of oppressive social systems, had been contributing to high levels of student engagement, increased test scores, and higher graduation rates among mostly Chicanx and Latinx students. However, during the 2008-2009 school year, State Superintendent Tom Horne initiated HB 2281, which would ban the program on the grounds that it separated students based on race (any student could join the classes, and traditional practices of academic tracking often segregate students by race anyways), and promoted “anti-American” values. The film tracks the bill’s advancement through various levels of government, exposing public officials racist opposition to the program, masked in the colorblind narrative that students should not learn that they are oppressed and that all students have equal opportunities and should thus be educated in exactly the same way. Most importantly, Precious Knowledge highlights students’ peaceful and impassioned protests to keep classes that felt relevant to them as individual and cultural beings.

Outcomes: Though HB 2281 passed, and the ethnic studies classes were outlawed, students built love and solidarity among themselves and their communities and gained critical skills in public organizing and civic engagement. The movement to promote rights for Latinx students in Arizona schools continues to this day, largely spearheaded by the activist group, UNIDOS. In 2012, HB 2281 was declared to have been “motivated by racial animus” by a federal court.

STEMs of a New Education in America

For those of you who don’t know, Colorado is currently undergoing a massive educational reform (or, at least it’s trying).  Here are some scary statistics (and if you don’t believe me, look ’em up):

 

*The average cost of educating one child annually is nearly $13,000

*District 11 (here, in Colorado Springs) is suffering from a lack of funding (which comes from federal dollars and tax revenue–like amendment 64 and the recently denied 66), barely scraping by on about $8,000/year per student

*The average cost of maintaining one inmate in prison is nearly $33,000 annually

*Not only is the U.S. ranked almost dead last in international performance tests such as math and science, it also ranks the highest on how students felt they performed. So, our ego is rather unjustifiable.

*The U.S. spends less of it’s annual GDP on education and early childhood development than almost 20 other nations.

 

^ Notice the troubling trend?

 

The short and dirty version is that one of the newest and most supported ideas is the STEM curriculum (Science Technology Engineering Math).  With many think-tanks in education considering how to refocus American education and make it more competitive, this curriculum was created in order to reflect American values such as ingenuity, entrepreneurship, problem-solving and critical thinking.  The implementation of this curriculum requires teachers to be trained with an interdisciplinary focus instead of one that is specialized so that students may study in a way that incorporates all of STEM’s values.  Colorado educators have taken to this curriculum idea, and last week my class was fortunate enough to participate in a STEM symposium, which was comprised of educators from all across the state.  The purpose was to discuss strategies for STEM’s implementation, including funding and investment, teacher preparation and the fine-tuning of the curriculum itself.

Many current models of the STEM education have had great success, such as in states like North Carolina, where rural and inner-city schools achieved a higher level of academic performance.  But Colorado faces a number of increasingly difficult hurdles towards the implementation of the STEM curriculum.  In contrast to most states, Colorado’s schools are run on a district level instead of the state level.  Most states provide guidelines and standards by which districts and schools format their curriculum.  However, the power in Colorado to manipulate curriculum lies within the district.  There are over 160 school districts in Colorado, making the standardization of teacher evaluations, funding equity and policies nearly impossible.  Imagine attempting to create a single policy that meets the needs of all districts in Colorado.  The simple answer is that there is no such policy.  This brings us to the next barrier against STEM in Colorado.

Senate Bill 191! Well, what is SB191? This bill proposes that instead of teachers working within the standard salary ladder through which they have worked for years (wherein as teaching years at an institution increase, generally salary also increases), these teachers should be paid based on performance. Wait a minute.  Didn’t we just say that in Colorado there are over 160 completely different districts with completely different needs and populations? Under SB191, teachers’ pay will be determined based on two primary things: 1.) evaluations from peer educators and/or students 2.) test scores.  It would seem to me and I’m sure many others that this bill overlooks several serious issues.

 

1.) Students are not machines.  Their performance on a test does not determine their scholarly capacity, nor does it determine that effectiveness of a teacher at a testable and verifiable level. What if the student was sick that day? What if that student’s mom just died? Wouldn’t you fail your test that day too?

2.) There are bad teachers and there are bad students. But how do test scores distinguish accurately between the two?

3.) Principles, peer educators and even students will all have a different way of evaluating a teacher.  Even if the form by which everyone evaluated teachers was exactly the same, the results and responses would be inevitably different.  A principle from Grand Junction, Colorado is unlikely to have the same evaluation methodology as another principle in Colorado Springs.

 

The list could go on, but the idea that SB191 is problematic should be clear enough.  So why is this Senate bill not only bad for teachers but also bad for STEM?  Well, with the standard model of the specialized teacher provides for simpler evaluations.  Measuring whether students have mastered specific concepts in solely Biology is easy.  How does one go about measuring a student’s critical thinking skills? What about problem-solving? Teamwork? Interdisciplinary incorporation and ingenuity? And let’s not forget that these evaluations pertain to hundreds of thousands of teachers that teach millions of students.  Senate Bill 191 is on a direct collision course for STEM.

I would like to touch on something that is also important–open mindedness and prioritization.  Don’t get me wrong. I very much support the refocus of American education, and I think students could benefit greatly from the STEM model. However, my experience at the symposium was different than I had expected it to be.  My classmates and I were the only undergraduate students present at the symposium (and for the most part, let’s be honest–we were quite easy to spot in discussion groups).  Initially, it seemed that the STEM discussion leaders and other educators from Colorado were very interested in our input.

“Ooh ooh! What’s your major?”

“Are you going into education? What might you teach?”

“What was your high school like? Do you like the idea of STEM?”

But when several of my classmates and I started asking the hard questions like, “Why?” and “Is there any data or research to support this idea?” no one listened.  They wanted us to believe that we had a voice and a role in this symposium, but the dark truth was that this symposium had a different motive.  This symposium was to present propaganda for STEM; it wanted the seal of approval from the educators present.  Our ideas for the implementation of STEM served only as tools for the STEM think-tank.  A perfect example is when a high school teacher from Western Colorado stood up and asked, “Is anyone else noticing the complete lack of statistical support for this method? I think the ideas are great, but what real proof to we have that this stuff works? How can you convince me to become a part of this without real evidence?”

The room was silent. Maybe two people out of one hundred clapped. And of course the panel speakers were unprepared for this question.  This wasn’t supposed to be the course of things.  Eventually one panel member responded with a generic, vague, unhelpful statement and the symposium moved on.  Everyone just forgot about that high school teacher and his incredibly important question. After the speaking panel, I approached this high school teacher and gave him my thanks for speaking up and asking the hard questions virtually no one else was willing to ask. On the verge of tears, he described to me the crushing pressure of a teacher in today’s system.  Each day he teaches what he thinks is important and good for children, but the system is telling him to teach something in a way that is clearly ineffective and bad for students. So when the principles come by, he writes his curriculum objective on the board and says his “Yessirs” and “Yes ma’ams,” because these are the people that pay him, that secure his job.  He said he saw the tears in many teachers’ eyes that day, for they had experienced the same, tormenting problem.  And yet, no one is asking the hard questions.  Shouldn’t the hard questions be the first questions? Should we care more about being recognized for our ideas, or more about getting something done for the future of this nation? This whole education thing isn’t just about children or money or equity or politics. It’s about what happens to all of us in the next 10 years.

 

So I pose this last question to all of you out there, students and teachers and everyone in between:

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

 

Let’s roll up our sleeves and get something done out there.

Creating Inspired Adults, Not Worker Bees

I’m currently taking the class Frameworks in American Education with Mike Taber (who is incredible, by the way).  Today we brought up the idea of the new paradigm.  That is, we discussed in class possible paper ideas where we propose a shift or change in the American educational system.  One of the ideas that came up is inspiring adulthood and responsibility at an earlier age.  Having done research already on a variety of domestic and international educational models in combination with being a public school student K-12, I feel this to be a pressing issue.

Education in America is compulsory, which means that children are required to begin school at a certain age and continue that schooling until their graduation from high school.  As we progress through this experience, we’re told to do this and that. You should get good grades. You should ace all your tests. You should place well on the ACT or SAT. You should go to college. You should graduate. You should get a high-paying job.  But is all this for the sake of what? Our educational system here in America manufactures students.  It produces mass quantities of students who have no idea what they truly want to do with there life. Where along the line did our system forget that education is for the individual?  Is my education for the sake of the boss who will be hiring me upon graduation, or is it for me as a responsible, adult human being?

My high school was a magnet school. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this idea, students choose a track within their high school either upon entering or within the end of the first year.  For example, my high school was an Arts/Science Magnet. We offered tracks such as instrumental music, vocal music, graphic art, traditional art and science. Once you have chosen a track, you are assigned an adviser and you work with that adviser in order to construct a four-year project within your magnet that will eventually be presented or completed just before graduation. Sound familiar? This process definitely prepared me for my experience here at CC. Declaring a major? Well, done that before. Worked with an adviser? Check. Worked towards completion of an intensive major or project? Mmhm.

The magnet experience provided for me. I know how to manage time. I  know how to undertake a massive responsibility with intimidation. I know how to be a leader and how to also work in cooperation with others.  High school experiences vary greatly from place to place and school to school, as I have observed in meeting many different people in my three years here.  But what if an adult level of maturity, of preparation, of responsibility, became the face of American education? What if the emphasis in education shifted from getting a job to something more derivative of a capable worker–being a good, functioning adult? This is not to say that we should eliminate World History classes, Algebra classes or Chemistry.  But in a fast-paced world where you’re expected to hit the ground sprinting and expected to survive on your own, shouldn’t we be given the tools to do so?

The future in education is in building human beings. The future lies in building capable adults.  This is derivative of everything. Dreams, aspirations and goals stem from the tree that is intrinsic motivation; how can we possibly find our own calling without being given the opportunity?  We should be inspired by something other than money in our educational experience, realizing that more than just a job comes from years of sitting at a desk, writing assignments and reading textbooks. How are we expected to change this issue in education? I’m not exactly sure. Maybe there should be more magnet schools available. I intend to find out more in the writing of my paper.  I am continually impressed and thankful for the wonderful thought and dialogue that comes from CC courses.