Now I’m sure you are wondering why I’m mentioning all this but after seeing the assembly line that planes go through, I began to think of the assembly lines our students go through. In each grade, we put another little part on our students and move them on their way the next year. Each year we add more pieces until we think they are completely “built” at the end of 12th grade and expect them to be totally successful, just like sending a plane off the factory line. I don’t believe we can treat our students this way and expect them to be successful in the real world. We need to look at the whole student and their individual needs and interests in order to plan the appropriate instruction. The education system expects that all students are made the same way and need the same parts, which are all added the same way. Then it hopes to get the same exact product at the end of 12 years. It doesn’t work that way! Our classrooms should not just be assembly lines. We should be looking at the whole student and not just the parts.
I also saw that office work stations were right there next to the plane. The tour guide told me that all of the people involved with that project worked right there instead of going back to far away offices. Then if there was a concern, it was easy to go up to that person and say, “hey, I need for us to look at this” and they both could walk right up to the plane and check it out.
Do we have all the people involved with our students available if there is a concern? I had a new student in my special ed class who was waiting to go through the hoops for testing and it took a year to officially state that he was wrongly placed. Of course we knew this within the first month but the red tape we had to follow was “more important” than the needs of the student. The appointments with a vision specialist and audiologist kept being put off because the parent had trouble getting a Medicaid card (which for some reason took months). Then the social worker had trouble arranging time to take the parent and student to the appropriate doctors. Then we had to wait to get appointments with an eye doctor and ear nose and throat doctor. Of course when we finally had time to do testing, and arrange a meeting to discuss the results, it was the end of the year. Meanwhile this student was extremely frustrated with school, had major behavior outbursts resulting in suspensions, had no peer relationships, and was just plain miserable the entire year!
On the tour, I then learned that these planes are tested by the Boeing pilots and then the customer sends their pilots for training and inspecting the planes. Both parties have to be satisfied with the performance of the plane before the sale is complete.
Do we do that with our students? Should we do that with our students? Do we make sure that our students will be able to perform the job an employer wants? Do we invite employers in to see our “product” and make adjustments, modifications, corrections if necessary? It’s a changing world out there and businesses are doing things differently. If we continue to teach in the same “assembly line” frame of mind, are we not doing our students an injustice? Are we really preparing them for being successful in today’s world?
Please let me know what you think and what suggestions you might have!