Over the years, I have read volumes of Academic Visions containing indecipherable educational jargon that seems to create more questions than answers. (Sadly, I also produced my fair share!) Yet, I have rarely seen succinct academic visions for Pk-12 education across the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Education is an infinitely complex journey, but the challenge of a long journey has never stopped anyone from starting with a simplistic roadmap. Likewise, I think we need more clarity in education on progression from primary to secondary. Like a long road trip across the country, we need to know our destination, and we need to know which way to turn in Albuquerque. Below is a simple academic view of PK-12 education:
At the elementary level, each year will foster high character, healthy relationships, and strong morals, as evidenced by personal responsibility. Mastering the essential academic skills and facts needed to succeed at the next level will be the primary goal of all students, with reading and math always taking priority. Proficiency in reading and math skills will be further highlighted in their application through writing and communicating in science, history, civics and other academic subjects. The graphic and performing arts will enrich and support academic growth. Physical education and unstructured play will be integrated as essential components of childhood and necessary for learning.
At the intermediate level (colleges and colleges), mastery of basic skills will be expected upon entry and, if necessary, students will be rigorously corrected until mastery of the essential academic skills required for intermediate level courses can be demonstrated. . High moral character and behavior are expectations as students grow and mature socially. Intermediate level courses will provide a more in-depth exploration of distinct academic topics. Students will support the findings and conclusions with evidence, facts, and logical discourse through written and oral communication. The graphic and performing arts will provide a better understanding of history and culture through artistic expression. Physical / health education, athletic competition and extracurricular participation will be encouraged for all students. The pre-college and pre-career diagnoses will provide students and parents with insight into possible career paths as they prepare for high school.
Finally, secondary schools will be structured as college and career preparation centers that foster strong social bonds. All academics, programs and disciplines will prepare students to enter the workforce, continue their education, and become productive members of the community. College and career readiness assessments will guide all academic teaching. Where possible, students will be challenged to address real-world academic, civic, and business issues in a given area and model of professional behavior. The highest proof of competence will be demonstrated through written and oral communication, artistic expression, professional experiences (internships / mentorships) and simultaneous registration. Participation in extracurricular activities is affirmed as an essential component of student growth. Every student will graduate and every student will graduate with some academic or professional experience.
As a career educator, I wonder if we have unnecessarily complicated the educational process. Over-simplification is certainly not the solution, but in an increasingly complex and divided world, parents, students and educators need to identify their common ground and shared expectations in education. In my experience, when given this chance, they will agree much more than they disagree, and when they disagree, they will do so with tolerance and dignity. Maybe my little academic outlook is flawed, but it doesn’t matter if it initiates conversations crucial to rediscovering the role and nature of schools.