Education, like life in general, has gotten far too complicated. We are bombarded with countless philosophies and things on how to live a healthy life. You can’t go anywhere or do anything without hearing about some new way to live a healthier and longer life. If we really thought about it however, we know the basics of living a healthy life. Don’t do things in excess, be physically active, eat healthy, and avoid stress as much as possible. It’s really just common sense. Everything else is basically fluff and ways to make money. Besides these basic principles, there is nothing out there that clearly and consistently makes people healthier and live longer. That’s why there are so many different diets, exercise routines, and other fads, with people swearing by each one. Think about it. If there really was something that was so great, like a certain food, vitamin, or whatever, then everybody would know about it and be doing it because it is so effective. There are more products and programs out there, all claiming to make you healthier and live longer, than you could possibly ever try. The reality of life however is that for the majority of people, if they follow their natural common sense, they will be healthy. The same is true of education – it’s common sense.
There are certain basics of education that are true for all children. Kids must behave, do their work, and come to school prepared to learn. Again, all the rest is fluff and ways to make money (like grants, research, and lots of “educational” products). Like with health, there are more interventions and programs out there, all claiming to improve something, than educators could possibly ever try. And which ones do we pick and why? In health and education you have to have the obvious basics in place before you can decide if you need something different, or have to do things differently. Some people have allergies, so an air filter can make them feel much better. Some people need medication for certain ailments and they feel better. But no matter what your circumstances, you need to have the basics in place. The air filter may help your allergy symptoms, but you still need good general health. You may have some exceptional health needs, but you still strive for general good health, or the basics. All people should strive for the basics of good health. Education and children are the same. We should strive for the basics in educating children. They must behave, do their work, and come to school prepared to learn.
Suppose you’re trying something to feel healthier and your gaining weight, or getting sicker, or feeling more stressed, would you keep doing the same thing? Well, that’s what we’re doing in education. We are trying all kinds of different combinations of the same “medicine” (i.e., rewards, positives, praising), with diminishing results, and we don’t have the basics in place. In fact, we wouldn’t need these “medicines” if the basics were in place. If you go to the doctor and you’re very overweight, feeling tired all the time, and your clothes don’t fit, don’t you think he’s going to tell you that you need to lose some weight? Again, do you have the basics in place?
More basics to come . . .