This semester I have to complete a thirty-seven-hour practicum for one of my education classes. The school in which I have been placed in is a very small and rural school not too far from Geneseo and also not too far from my own personal high school that I attended. Although, not very far away the culture shock that I have experienced has been substantial. Throughout the time that I have spent at this school so far, I have learned that a great deal of the students within the high school is at a reading level that is significantly lower than what it should be. With so many struggling students within the school I have interpreted that many of the teachers feel as if there is nothing to be done, other than just present them with the curriculum and hope for the best.
In the midst of being shocked at how many students struggle academically, I, of course, had many questions flowing in and out of my head. One broad and an overarching question that I keep going back to is, where did it all go wrong for these students? This experience and this question resurfaced my mind during my group collaborations this past week in regard to our group blog post. As a group we at one point explored the idea of production and consumption, of course corresponding to sustainability, however, I got thinking about how it could relate to education. Looking at this idea through a lens of education, I personally see educators acting as the production and the students acting as the consumers.
Now you may be wondering how these two very different things connect and that is understandable. It was not until my group developed the statement, “the producer of a system are rarely the consumers of the products that they develop,” that I personally was able to make the connection myself. As a future educator, I would be placed in the producer category. I will be the person producing and constructing ways to convey the curriculum to the students, otherwise known as the consumers. And the students will be expected to receive and engage with that curriculum, just as consumers do when they receive goods.
Going back to my question, where did it all go wrong? I find myself believing that the producer and consumer relationship is what is wrong. A teacher should not act as a producer and a student should not hold the role of a consumer, however, unfortunately, this is the way in which many classrooms are running, and I have seen this first hand throughout my time at my practicum placement. As a future educator, my hope is to learn through my own curriculum, my own mistakes, and my own students. I do not believe that an educator should approach their students with the mindset that they have nothing to learn from them. Teachers should know that just like their students, they also are going to act as “consumers of the products they [producers] develop.” I believe that when a teacher develops a classroom setting in which they believe they can learn something from their own students that many doors for growth and opportunity will be opened.