Education has its roots in the Latin word 'educere', which means 'to lead out'. True education is not about stuffing in more information and knowledge. True education is drawing out the skills, character, and wisdom that is already in a child and nurturing those qualities.
We must end the oppression of standardized tests. Even in the current pandemic of 2020/2021, educators are being told to prepare for standardized tests this spring. Are you kidding me? Children, parents, and teachers have barely had a chance to get to know each other, let alone focus on curriculum and some great con-artist wants to test our children and hold educators accountable.
The opportunity of the pandemic is to speak the truth. Standardized tests are like the emperor with no clothes. We don't need more knowledge shoved into our children's minds so they can prove to the multi-billion dollar system that they have a good memory.
We need to focus on wisdom. Wisdom is knowledge and information applied so humanity becomes better at being human. We must return to the old "other side of the report card". We must teach critical thinking skills, how to discover what is truth. We need a much greater focus on problem-solving, character development, and social and emotional learning.
If the past year of chaos, with its divided politics, social justice or injustice, and COVID-19 has taught us anything, it has taught us the need for human teaching and human learning. We must help our children develop and practice the skills for learning and being human.
The research of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, CASEL.org, documents the need for self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.
In our search for wisdom, we must include the voices and perspectives of women, blacks, hispanics, indigenous people, and other underrepresented and underserved groups.
In a nation that is torn apart, we must teach the power of love, compassion, empathy, trust, forgiveness, and gratitude.
If we explored all academic content through the lens of Social Emotional Learning we would reduce and possibly eliminate hunger, lack of resources, hate crimes, lack of clean water, lack of electricity, mental health concerns, and addiction.
This of course would be a major restructuring of education, or maybe not. I have been an educator for 48 years and every fellow teacher I ever met, in the tens of thousands, are in some way trying to teach social emotional skills.
The young people I meet want to change the world and the teachers I meet want to nurture their passion.
Young people want to heal the planet, climate change, war, starvation, racism, and sexism.
When we integrate Social Emotional Learning into every content area, we will be raising the priority of three new essential R's, respect for self and others, responsibility for everything I think, feel, say, and do, and healthy relationships.
We will move education to be the vehicle that will elevate civilization. We will finally experience what it feels like to be civil, to solve conflict without violence, to live without fear of being different, to act for the greater good, and to love unconditionally.