My Turn: Steven Arey: Fixing education in the U.S.

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 19, 2024

By Steven Arey

Listening to NPR, our latest conundrum of teachers’ salaries is back on the top of the “important list” and the answer again is “more funding.”

Online programs in reading, writing, language, history, art, math, science, coding and anything you want to know abound.

Subjects which are not even taught in high school will be available for students who excel in a particular area, not being held behind by slower students. Then, the slow students are not caused to be embarrassed by not understanding a subject matter, when the teacher moves on to the next subject. Individual learning is available at the students “ability to learn” not at the teacher’s ability to teach.

Facilitators are all that is needed in this new learning environment. Someone who can help guide the student to the program that stays right there with their ability to understand the subject matter, before the student moves on to the next page.

Why not think outside the box and put neighborhood schools where children are within walking distance to their school. When they arrive, guess what, they know everyone or will in just a few short weeks. Then, the parents of those children learn who the parents are of their children’s classmates.

In addition, large industries with many employees could offer schooling at the workplace and receive tax incentives for providing it. A place at work where a “facilitator” can assist their children in the “online programs” approved by the parents, that allow them to learn at their own pace and learning ability. 

All age groups in the same room, helping one another with a facilitator who understands how to use a computer. Take-home laptops could also be provided which allow a student to continue their education at home.

Unlike our public schools, we do not hold the entire class back because two or three children are behind. And being in a “peer group,” those behind students will not speak up and let the teacher know “I don’t understand that,” for fear of getting laughed at.

A solution for the system would be for high school-aged children providing “mentoring” for the younger children in their homes, in their neighborhoods and workplaces. You might call it “baby sitting,” but I have always thought that our public schools are just that.

Mentoring or facilitating one-on-one using technology to master each subject material before moving on to the next. This is a two-way or three-way improvement over our present system of learning. The pupil gets the one-on-one mentoring, the“facilitator” which can be a high school student, is given an important responsibility, and is looked upon by the younger child as a teacher should be. Several children could be “mentored” in the same neighborhood within walking distance to the house being used for schooling or in the workplace.

Putting it simply, present technology does not require a “teacher” to teach. Only a “facilitator” is needed to guide the pupil in using the technology that already exists. Like Sesame Street on steroids.

If our representatives could think outside the box, maybe who knows, we might even be voting on our phones just like banking. Let’s go ahead and move into the 21st century folks.

Steven Arey lives in Salisbury.