Non-Business Aspects of Education Being Overlooked to Our Detriment

By Palmer, John | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), May 4, 2013 | Go to article overview

Non-Business Aspects of Education Being Overlooked to Our Detriment


Palmer, John, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


THE West Virginia Board of Education and the Legislature tend to focus narrowly on business aspects of education. Here are some of the non-business aspects that tend to be overlooked:

* Community. Every school is - or should be - richly and organically connected with the community it serves.

* Intellectual discipline. Non-elementary teachers represent specific disciplines (e.g. mathematics, social studies, science ...), in which they have special knowledge and about which they are (or should be) enthusiastic.

* Adolescent psychology. The difference in world outlook between a 10-year-old person and a 13-year-old person is greater than that between a 30-year-old and a 53-year-old.

* The Classroom as it is. The classroom as it is today is not what it was when most folks who are now mature adults were in class.

How can neglect of these non-business aspects hurt the redesign of West Virginia's public education system?

* By overlooking the organic ties between school and community, a school board might recommend consolidation based on a cost benefit calculation, which cannot put a dollar value on these valuable but intangible ties.

* By overlooking intellectual discipline, a board will undervalue approaches to encouraging student interest in potentially highly productive studies. Business folks certainly want student interest in math and science but they do not see the initially difficult, indirect links that must be established and fostered, to do the job.

* Overlooking adolescent psychology has led to an emphasis in increasing third grade reading scores as an end in itself. While that is a worthy goal, a chaotic middle school experience can wipe out these gains like an incoming tide knocks down sand castles.

* Without firsthand current classroom experience, decision- makers will assume that classroom management is a secondary concern. Board of Education folks would likely be astonished at the barely controlled conditions that exist in many school classrooms. …

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