Hello Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors,
Just a few thoughts on this Tuesday afternoon.
I cannot express how important critical and creative thinking is. Over the course of the last few weeks, I have spent a lot of time thinking about confirmation bias. Confirmation bias, the idea that any new evidence that we find fits in with our pre-existing beliefs and we force it to do so, is riddled with fraught. We have stopping thinking about issues and only think about being correct. We ignore evidence, disregard contrary opinions, and push aside conversations that are uncomfortable.
Do we want our children to be able to think, to analyze, to conceptualize, to evaluate, and to truly understand issues? Or do we want to continue with the oversimplification of ideas, the adherence to conformity of opinion, and blind compliance?
As someone that has had many a discussion online that has just become a rehash of the same arguments and the attachments of the same evidence, I know that we can do more. Our schools need to teach critical thought, debate, and how to have a meaningful discussion about subjects that matter.
With the overwhelming amount of testing, we are creating a generation that can read and write, but has nothing to discuss.
As a member of the Columbia County School Board, I will fight to decrease the influence of testing and bring our schools back to a place where critical and creative thinking is paramount.
My name is Andrew Kemp and I am running for the School Board of Columbia County, Georgia.
Hello Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors (wherever you are),
As you know, my name is Andrew Kemp and I am running for the Columbia County School Board, District 3. I am sure that you have many questions for me. I am here is answer any questions that you have. Please feel free to ask me about my views of education, my beliefs about learning, or anything else you want to know about me. I will give you a straight answer even if I think it isn’t the answer you want to here. To start, here is a little bit about me.
• I was born in Melbourne, Florida in 1969.
• I have lived in Indialantic, Florida, Melbourne, Florida, Tampa, Florida, Palm Bay, Florida, Merritt Island, Florida, Brookings, South Dakota, Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Sycamore, Illinois, and now Evans, Georgia.
• I have a B.A. in English from the University of South Florida, an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from South Dakota State University, and an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University Central Florida.
• I have been a high school English teacher, a high school program coordinator, and a college professor.
• Outside of education, I have been a dishwasher, a farm manager, worked in a library, a gas station clerk, worked at a lakeside resort doing whatever needed to be done, and an editor.
• Politically, I am liberal. But, this is a non-partisan race and I am about improving education.
• I have two daughters that are 16 and 18.
• I was married for 22 years (together 27). She died of liver and kidney failure in March 2015.
• I have found a wonderful new person in my life.
• I am a writer and musician.
• I listen to all types of music. My favorites are metal and punk. My least favorites are rap and country (although I do listen to both from time to time).
• My favorite book is Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. My favorite popular book is The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.
• I love the Beat poets and the poetry of the Harlem Renaissance.
• My favorite musician is Bruce Springsteen.
• I am Buddhist.
• I am a vegetarian. It is mostly just for health reasons. I am trying to get in shape.
• I love fishing, but rarely do it.
• I used to play and coach soccer. More than 25 years of experience.
There is a lot more, but that is a start. Let me know what you want to know.
Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors,
It has been a while since an update. The main reason for the delay has been my job as a faculty member in the College of Education and Augusta University. I have been teaching two different classes that are closely related. The subject? Place-based education. For those of you that aren’t familiar with this term, place-based education is an educational idea in which the content of the classroom is based on the community and local issues. Instead of studying the rainforest in elementary school, study the Georgia forest. Study local history, economics, literature, art, biology, chemistry, agriculture and business. Get community leaders and businesses involved in the schools. Teach students to cherish the community, the people, and the environment.
For those who might question this vision, what is it that we want our children to know and to be able to do? Do we want students to know history or think like a historian? If we want them to read, does it matter what they read? Why not read something that has context? Beowulf? Separated by time and culture and language? Use local literature.
A popular argument against this idea is that if you only learn about what is local, what if you move? Learning about where you live is transferrable. If you know where to look, what to look for, and how to find things, you can live anywhere. However, learning about where you live also causes students to appreciate where they live. In turn, there is less violence, less vandalism, and a greater since of community. Volunteerism goes up. People help each other. And, communities tend to thrive.
Now, there are three issues here. It isn’t about only teaching what is local. I am not advocating abandoning what we do in schools. I am talking about enhancing and making education relevant. Second, what about standards? There is ample research suggesting that teaching just to standards limits education. Getting the students interested in what they are learning does more toward improving test scores than the drill and kill that we do now. Finally, what about tradition? We all know we learn in school. The problem is that this doesn’t really change. As things advance in science, math, literature, historical knowledge, business, music, art, and technology, our schools are not following along. We still insist on teaching the same things that the generations past learned. We are locked into a curriculum that doesn’t move forward. That is okay. How many times in your life have you been crippled by not knowing Shakespeare, the date of a war, or endoplasmic reticulum (wow…I spelled that right on the first try). Yes, if you are an English major, a historian, or a biologist, that is important. But, for everyone? By making education locally relevant, to learn the subjects in the context of place, education comes alive.
In schools, we need to create thinkers, historians, writers, musicians, farmers, graphic designers, mathematicians, and scientists. We need our schools to teach skills that will allow students to do things, not just know things. We need teachers to have the freedom to teach creativity and critical thinking over characters, numbers, and places. We need forward thinking schools and not schools that are stuck in the past.
My name is Andrew Kemp and I am running for the Columbia County School Board—District 3. The election date is May 22, 2018. I urge you to vote. I prefer you to vote for me, but most importantly, be a part of the process of democracy.
PS—I would appreciate any support you can give to my campaign. I am finding that even the smallest things (website support, advertising, etc.) quickly add up. If everyone were able to give $10, I would be set for now. I have been looking into the costs of yard signs and other campaign items (buttons, pens, shirts) and they are expensive.
With the exception of a year, I have been a teacher or a student for my entire life. I have taught on many different levels. I have been a middle school teacher (okay, for one semester for student teaching...because of this, I have a profound respect for middle school teachers), high school, undergraduates and graduate students. I have coached soccer in youth leagues and high school. Education is in my blood.