Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Education Reform: Moral Imperative

Education Reform:  Moral Imperative

I have had the opportunity to work in public schools for the past 13 years and I have absolutely loved it.  I will teach again, and I will always put 100% of my energy towards representing the students and their best interests.   Over the past couple of years our project-based learning or problem-based learning program partnered with over 100 businesses & organizations in the community.  I asked all of them (and others) what they thought students need to learn, while in school, in order to be successful in today's changing world.  The answers were always the same.  They would say:

1.  Technology - how to use it...and not just for selfies, tweeting, and texting.

2.  Know how to LEARN - in this day and age, the amount of facts you have memorized isn't as important, instead it is more important that you can learn new things effectively and efficiently.  Learn how to learn!

3.  21st century or soft skills - communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, ability to ask good questions, etc...

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills" - Will Ferrell

I am confused.  None of these critical skills are emphasized in schools or required by local, state, or national standards.  Why?  It is for this reason that I have decided to take a year of leave from teaching to help initiate and inspire change in education.  Other skills that I would add to the list of things we should teach include the teaching of INTEGRITY, CHARACTER, HONESTY, PASSION, and COMPASSION.  With the high divorce rates, suicide rates, anxiety rates, I think it is time for education to start acting like we are teaching young PEOPLE and not just acting as a minor leagues for the college/career world, and trying to program a bunch of robots.

This is why I started implementing ComPassion Based Learning and I am very passionate about this concept.  I am focusing my efforts on education reform.  I am hesitant to use this phrase, as education reform has become a joke over the past couple decades.  Usually this is associated with political agendas meant to make the politicians look good at the expense of schools, teachers, and students.  Maybe it is more appropriate to call it education transform .... because it is a complete transformation that is needed.

I love hearing insight from the community.  The opinion of everyone in the community is so important for education to stay relevant.  I am sick of pet theories from PhD's dictating the agenda for education.  Why don't we start asking the people involved?  Talk to the community, the parents, the students.  Our education system has come across as extremely selfish and ignorant.  Despite exponential changes in the real-world, the education system has been completely stagnant.  The schools are often viewed as brick buildings with locked doors.  Nobody is welcome in to offer their expertise and suggestions because "education knows what they are doing".  I am done believing that.  It is going to take feedback and insight from everyone to determine what our students need to be successful in a future that we cannot imagine.  We should start by treating them like people and not pawns in a fictional power struggle.

What are your thoughts?  What do you feel that we need to prepare students for the future?  Am I crazy?  Do I keep fighting for change?  If you disagree, I would love to hear your opinions.  I have an open mind and actively continue to seek what is right for the students.  Now, I will just have a little extra time to figure it out.


How can I help you?  Honestly?  How can I help improve the education that students are receiving?  Are there people I should talk to?  Are there lessons you need created?  Are there tutorials, professional development, or resources you need?  As stated in the beginning, I am taking a year or two off of teaching.  I am not; however, taking a year or two off of education.  I will be moving forward with 100% effort.  I will be passionately doing everything I can to empower students, improve education, and help assist those who are also trying to improve education.  Please let me know how I can help you!

Oliver Schinkten
Twitter:  Oliver Schinkten (@schink10)
Linked in:  Oliver Schinkten
Google + :  Oliver Schinkten
Email:        oschink@gmail.com


  1. Dear Oliver,
    Nice to see you are taking off on your own. If you ever need to discuss ideas, drop us a line at Developing Real Learners. A couple of things stand out here that might be discussed. Do you really want to reform education or transform it? Reform it is what's being going on in many countries for a long time - shuffling the same pieces around the board, emphasizing one aspect (usually at the cost of others) - reforming is what poor politicians are good at - now transformation is another thing - it's getting to what the fundamental point of education is - say, helping kids become the best holistic learners they can be within a context of good citizenship - and changing the way we approach education - coming up with something new.

    Also, I think it's a great idea to give help to solve the problems people have who've been through the educational system or are coming to the end of it but for young people we need to get to the root of what causes these problems - why do people have less integrity, why are they less honest, why do they have weak or poor character and why are they less passionate (are they?)? Teaching them to be so will I think be a delicate balance - I mean do you teach character or do you help develop character? I always think of those skills courses that were the fashion a while back - let's teach the kids skills so they can be better at lessons. They discovered that these didn't work - kids didn't transfer the skills and saw the lessons as just places where they practiced those skills. We need to integrate character-building, honesty and integrity - passion will follow as e encourage the natural learning attributes of kids to grow.

    I hope you don't mind these comments - we and kids have to be what Naseem Nicholas Taleb (someone who also shares a distrust of academics) calls antifragility - not just being robust to disruption but actively seeking to out as I believe you are here. :)

    I do agree with your sentiment and action and will support you as you wish,

    Good Luck,

    A Non-PhD educator
    Developing Real Learners

    1. Thank you for your comments, Robert! I definitely agree with you! You make some wonderful points. I actually changed a couple things in the post to adjust the emphasis to "transformation".

      I also agree that all of this is a "delicate balance". Although I mention it as "teaching" these skills, you make a great point that they are developed. My goal is to provide the right situations in which students can develop character and integrity, get them into real-world situations more often, and give the ultimate amount of feedback (and I do not mean letters and %'s). I think one example is allowing cell phones in class so that you can have the teachable moments when you explain that you do not refrain from texting while someone is talking because it is a rule! You refrain from texting while someone is talking because it is rude!" This is a minor example, but I think illustrates the need for them to "develop" these skills & traits through experience, feedback, and reflection.

      I love your comments! They keep me thinking! Reflecting, learning, thinking! I am open-minded and definitely have a growth mindset and cannot be offended. I am constantly seeking out any insight, wisdom, or facts that will help me make sense of all of this.

      We will definitely be in touch! I appreciate everything that you do and everything you stand for!

      I hope all is well!


  2. You are 100% doing the right thing!

    Just follow the leadership quote stated at the beginning and the rest will follow.

  3. Oliver,
    Good luck to you on your campaign! You'll find there are lots of us walking alongside. My new book OPEN: How We'll Work Live And Learn In The Future, makes similar arguments, and I've been astonished at the response to it - people who really know education, and work in schools and colleges all the time, understand the need for forward-thinking - sadly, it's our politicians who keep looking in the rear-view mirror, urging us to go 'back to basics'.
    I'm happy to send you a complimentary electronic copy of OPEN, if you'd like one.
    Best wishes,

    1. Hello David!

      I thought I just left a long message, but apparently it didn't post! I guess I will try it again!

      Thank you for your reply & comments. I am honored to have you reply!

      You make an excellent point! I have noticed that the majority of educators have supported change and realize that change is necessary, yet it is so difficult for any change to be implemented. It is sad that so many decisions are made at the executive level by people who are not involved in the daily operations of the teaching/learning process and clearly do not have the students' best interest in mind.

      I promised my students since the day I began teaching that if I ever felt that I wasn't doing everything possible to help them be healthy, happy, and successful in the future, that I would resign and fight for change. It kills me to leave the classroom, because I love education, but students deserve so much more than they are getting. I cannot willingly follow the status quo education system that is outdated and hurting students more than it is helping, and still look the students in the eyes. I am more passionate and motivated to defend the necessary change than I ever have been before. If you ever have suggestions or advice on what to do, it would be greatly appreciated.

      Thank you for everything you do to improve education. Your voice and vision for the future are GREATLY APPRECIATED!!! I would love to receive an electronic copy of your book. I would read it immediately! My email address is oschink@gmail.com

      If there is ever anything that I can help you out with, please let me know. I will wake each day ready to fight for change. I want to accomplish as much as I can in helping empower those who are empowering students!

      I hope all is well! Thank you!

      Oliver Schinkten


Please engage in the discussion. I would love to hear what you have to say!