This is my space to rant and rave, vent and vex about education, my passion. I am calling it "Mining for Hidden Gems" because of the above quote and because as a teacher, my job is to look for those gems. The real valuable ones are not usually on the surface. You have to dig deep to find them.

I am also borrowing from Katherine Bomer's wonderful book Hidden Gems: Naming and Teaching From the Brilliance in Every Student's Writing. It has changed the way I look at not just student work but students themselves and all people around me.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Good" Schools

What constitutes a “good” school?  As a parent, and now as an educator, I have been asking that question for at least 21 years (That’s how old my oldest child is!).  My own parents’ life quest was to provide me with “good” schools, no matter the expense and trouble of finding one, including moving to another continent.  One of my friends has home schooled her nine children (adopted and biological) because their thirst for knowledge has never been satisfied by the public schools where she has lived.  My other friends have looked for magnet and charter schools within their home districts in hope of a more challenging, rigorous education that will prepare their kids for college.  But is preparing kids for a college education in and of itself what makes a school “good”?  What should be the ultimate goal of education?  I believe that we are here to know and to love.  Consider the notion of knowing about and loving all that is in and around us as the purpose to our lives on this earth.  So is it too much to ask that a “good” school help all children to know and to love the world?

I think a  “good” education, a “good” school is one that helps answer the questions:  Who am I and where do I fit in this world?  What are my strengths and weaknesses and how can I use them to be the best that I can be?  What are my passions, my callings and what skills do I need in order to be able to pursue them?  Nowadays, information and facts about any subject are in the kids’ pockets and purses in the form of their phones and other electronic devices. (As I am writing this, my 15 year old is learning how to play the Ukulele from a Hawaiian teacher on-line).  “Good” teachers are what make a school “good” and “good” teachers are not those who fill their students with facts, information and discrete skills.  “Good” teachers are guides and mentors that ask questions, tough questions, probing questions, questions that will lead them to the important answers in their lives.