What I think Obama CAN Do
There has been a lot of talk about our President-elect lately, and what he can and can’t accomplish. So, why not give an opinion from my perspective as an educator? Here goes:
“Pre-script”: Yes, I have broad ideas about solutions, but won’t be sharing them in this post. This is about how the environment can change with President Obama.
1) The Man
Barack Obama is just a man, but he is also an idea. Both of these things are important to remember because this provides the information that he is at once a) fallible and b) capable of creating great movement and inspiration
2) What this means for education
Since he is capable of inspiring people to create change, I don’t think it necessary for him to be an experienced educator to affect change in education. I have heard this view propagated, and it is pretty narrow minded. Presidents don’t fix things. They don’t build cars, and they certainly don’t write curriculum. What they can do is create an environment in which things can happen. My hope is that he creates a “think outside the box” atmosphere. What we have now is many people thinking inside many boxes. The public school administrators “know” what they know. Charter schools (a nice example of which is the KIPP network) “know” what they know. Homeschoolers “know” what they know. The problem is that they are all “knowing” it separately and in spite of each other! I think that the President-elect has the ability (this is not a guarantee, so calm down) to inspire compromise and free thinking in a way that our previous Presidents have not.
He obviously values education, but must listen to the right people (not person) in order to bring about the change necessary and foster creative problem solving. Otherwise we will just be once again throwing money at bandaid solutions. Many think simple solutions are the answer. Some think radical change is the answer. Make no mistake, improving education enough to make a dent will take some basic solutions combine with radical overhauls. The mark of a genius president (which I think he has the potential to be) is to see where to plug in which once he listens to everyone.
3) What this means for physical fitness and development in children
Quite obviously the man values physical fitness. The looming question for me is (drum roll) – will he listen to those who know how to do it the right way, taking a child’s natural course and method of development into account…Or will he do it the wrong way, listening to the “famous” in fitness who think it just takes making our kids burn more calories. Will he be listening to people who help him understand all of the issues inherent in recreating a physical culture, or will he just throw more funding and ask for more time in PE (as if that will be enough)?
Certainly his love of physical fitness and sports is enough to inspire. In what direction?
Once thing I know for certain. The types of changes we need will not be accomplished by cynics who are only interested in their own opinions. It will be accomplished by those who are inspired by this President and by the times to make concessions and come to the table. Those who are willing to put aside ego, “place” and credential to truly create solutions that benefit everyone, not just their own narrow interest group.
We have to come up with solutions for every group (obviously not every-one), so that we don’t have just vouchers, which likely won’t work for the poor…so that we don’t have just charter schools, which don’t necessarily have everything figured out (some, not all)…so that we don’t just have the same old model of tightly wound test teaching curriculum that we see in public schools…so that the GREAT teachers we see every day in public, charter and private schools are given the opportunity to flourish.
I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts, and if anyone knows a way I can help him and others bring about these changes…ways I haven’t considered: Let me know.