April 27, 2009

Educating is OUR Collective Job

This post was written by Matthew Reid, volunteer blogger with the Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project. A native New Yorker, Matthew now lives in Boston and works for a math curriculum development company.

I was a teacher for 5 years. Prior to teaching, I worked for a non-profit organization where we provided scholarships for students to attend college. And even before that position, after high school and through college, I was a summer camp counselor and volunteer/organizer for an after school tutoring program. I enjoy working with youth and feel that it is my responsibility to pass on knowledge that I have to others.

Recently in the news, there have been many ideas floating around about how to “reform” the public education system and what is necessary. President Obama said education was going to be one of his top priorities to address and “fix” the problem of both teacher recruitment and student performance.

Now as a former teacher, I support the need to recruit better teachers, obviously pay them a living/competitive wage and put more responsibility on parents to be accountable for their child’s learning. However, once everyone (politicians, parents, community leaders, etc.) are done saying what they have to say for the cameras, they’re gone and the responsibility to educate the youth of America relies entirely on the teacher.

It IS the responsibility of the teacher to input knowledge and information to each student, however, it is NOT ONLY their responsibility. The community is also responsible. If a child is out on a school night past 9pm, where are the people in the community to tell that child, “go home, get some sleep and make sure your homework is done”? Is that not the socially responsible thing to do?

When I was growing up, I was very fortunate to have both of my parents to make sure my schoolwork was done. But they also made sure that I wasn’t hanging out on the stoop on a school night. They watched who I was friends with and reminded me where my priorities were when it came to schoolwork.

The idea that “it takes a village to raise a child” unfortunately is not often the case anymore. Neighborhoods are stretched and constantly in flux, and the idea of community is harder to come by. However, the stress of raising children to be professionals cannot lie solely on the teacher.

The community needs to come together and demand more of themselves to help educate these children and support them in their education. Who knows, maybe if they are successful, the youth will then in turn do the same thing in the future and our communities will be stronger for it.

What are some ways you can get involved with the youth of your community?

1 comment:

Houseonahill said...

I've been advocating a global response to heightening the education of at-risk youth. Someone who challenged me said that the powers that be prefer ignorant societies that they can control. Thoughts? AND how could we combat governments if in fact this is the case, both in our country and abroad.

Great post.

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