To Whom It May Concern (Which Should Be All of Us)
Jess Mierzwa Ferri

The Teaching Profession Dilemma

Heartbreaking! There’s no other apt description for what has been happening in education for a very long while. Our educational system in the U.S. has been in decline for too many years, but it seemed to take a steep decline after my youngest son graduated high school in 1998.

I remember those years well. I was devasted by what I heard and read was happening in public education, not only in my locality, but in much of the rest of the U.S. And, all of us have seen the proliferation of charter, magnet and other types of independent school systems and schools in answer to the problems. These schools are an effort to transform traditional educational experiences in semi-traditional ways. Then, regardless of popular belief, I believe the educational problem issues are today’s main reasons why homeschooling is so widespread and popular — not religious beliefs. In fact, as a very well-educated person myself, I totally support homeschooling. Homeschooling parents usually are at least high school graduates, but regardless, they now have very well-written syllabi and lesson plans to follow. And these methods — syllabi and lesson plans are diverse, meeting the different needs of “teacher” parents and their children. Today, homeschooling, in the right hands, keeps the wonder, excitement and quest for knowledge in children’s hearts.

In no way am I minimizing or blaming our long-suffering, excellent professional teachers, who labor out of love every day in traditional classrooms, for the myriad educational problems that exist. I feel their treatment and plights are horrendous and untenable for reasons that are not their faults. What I see is that politics have invaded the classrooms and sullied them along with everything else they touch. Plus, to make matters even worse, technology now has superceded much of traditional educational methods and has made obvious how slow and inefficient they are. To be sure, the inherent, always potential, problems of traditional classroom education have been exacerbated by technology.

At this time in our society, I would not encourage anyone to become a professional teacher, unless he/she has a vision of being a supportive professional proctor for electronically relayed education. Such professional positions now are in the process of de facto development, and will become more and more the norm.

Education is undergoing a paradigm shift due to the advantages of progressive technology. Many students today, at all levels of learning, receive excellent educations through Internet teaching. For sure, there are problems, but they are transitional. The extended vision of education is that at elementary, middle school and high school levels, people most likely will learn through computer tablets that employ well-developed educational software. (In fact, one of my sons is employed in programming educational information software in chemistry.) Today already, many undergraduate and graduate college students learn via the Internet, with overseeing professors guiding and helping them…just as are some children, with professional teachers monitoring them. Software is now and will be written for each stage of human development as to mental maturity and best psychological practices to promote learning. In addition, software does now and will continue to provide appropriate and therapeutic means of testing for learning and correction in educational misunderstandings. Since children will continue to need general supervision, professional educational proctors probably will be employed to supervise children and help them with educational understanding, when needed.

My vision sees centers where children of all ages will be dropped off by working parents. And, since these centers will not be primarily educational in nature, they may be known as child care centers, thus somewhat re-inventing and repurposing existing child care centers. Within these centers, children of appropriate ages will learn on their tablets for part of each day, overseen by hopefully professional care givers and professional educational proctors, or people who professionally are both. The children may be separated by age in their learning modes, in order that proctors who are specialized by age in “teaching” can better help them when needed. Perhaps not. Probably these centers also will provide educational fun trips to forest preserves, museums, etc. for hands-on-learning. Meanwhile, those parents who are able to homeschool will continue to do so, providing the same types of support to their children. And, perhaps even some working parents will be able to keep their children with them while the children learn through their tablets. Of course, our working world also is undergoing a paradigm shift due to AI developments (but that is another story).

There are benefits to having a new educational paradigm, such as I have projected. Instead of children being placed into traditional standardized, slow-moving tracks of learning, electronic education allows them to learn at their own rates of progression, whether slower or faster. Until now, despite the best efforts of good teachers, some students have been unspeakably bored in traditional modes of education. Usually, these students are held back in their learning by the needs of those in a classroom who do not learn as quickly as they do. And, supplemental “Talented and Gifted” types of classes have proven spotty in positive effects. Whereas a good number of people I know or have spoken with mourned the boredom of their younger years in classrooms, I know I could have learned more, more quickly, and been more excited by learning if I could have learned at my own pace. When children, and people in general, are not hampered by boredom, stagnation, inflexible schedules such as bus schedules, classroom periods, etc., not to mention the bullying that now goes on too often in public schools, life and learning can be much more exciting and brighter. In addition, electronic education can totally alleviate “test stress.” When one is tested through well-written test software, it can seem like a game.

At the point when boredom, stagnation, drugery and terrors in education become non-existent, we will have a better educated society that retains its enthusiasm for learning at all levels and in all situations. We will have people who will want to learn, no matter their abilities or talents. Then perhaps, we will no longer have anti-intellectuals who care nothing about facts, science, writing and reading, such as we now have in the upper echelons of our Federal Government. When everyone values education and learning, there is more glue to hold a better functioning and higher socioeconomic society together despite diversity. Of course, by then, every aspect of our society will be changed by advancing technology, no longer pitting people against oneanother for jobs, job status and hopefully money. (But again, that is another story.)