Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors,
The other day I was talking to my daughter. She is a junior in high school. We were talking about college and school. She told me how much she loves to learn. She also told me how much she hates school.
As a father and educator, this troubled me. How can someone that says she loves to learn, hate school? So, we talked.
What I learned is that learning new things is exciting. Being able to think about new things is invigorating. Being creative is stimulating. But, in school, the system mutes these things. The day is filled with worksheets, memorization, and regurgitation. The day isn’t filled with discovery. The day is filled with lectures, notes, and preparing for tests. Then, it is on to the next topic. After school, there is homework. More of the same work. And the cycle goes on and on.
Children are creative and want to learn. Think about a young child. A child loves to color, to draw, to paint, to tell stories, to build things, to use clay, to pretend. But, by the time they get to middle school and high school, this has desire has been extinguished. How has this happened?
What is the focus of our education system? Our schools in Columbia County have high test scores. SAT/ACT scores are outstanding. Our AP pass rate is high. But, at what cost? Each of these are based on tests and measurements. What are the tests for creativity? Critical thinking? Inspiration?
Recently, I was at a school board meeting and there was a large recognition for schools that are finding high levels of success with PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports) which is a management and discipline system. We were celebrating behavior. Yes, there was a celebration of All State Band and other things, but where are we going?
We have a created an education system that is more about rewards than about knowledge, more about scores than about thoughts, and more about recognition than inspiration.
Do we have schools that educate? Of course. But, to what end? Do we want our children to know things or be able to do things? Do we want our children to be able to bubble in answers or create ideas? Do we want our children to know history or be historians, know science or be scientists, know literature or be writers, understand business or be entrepreneurs?
Our schools are successful at what they do. I just ask, is it enough?
If elected, I will work with the school board, the schools, the teachers, the administrators, and the students to create learning environments that don’t just prepare our children for test, but prepare them for life.
My name is Andrew Kemp. I am running for the Columbia County School Board, District. 3.
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.