“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein
I hurriedly cleaned up my room, turned off the lights and grabbed my belongings while glancing at the clock to make sure I wasn’t running late. You wanted to arrive early because if you were not present and your name was drawn, then you would forfeit your chance to win a cheeky prize. Clearly, no self-respecting high school teacher would dream of missing out on anything free! Admittedly, I never won any of the pre-faculty meeting prizes, at least not in the form of a gift card. The prize I won was much bigger and of no monetary value. It was an epiphany, a vision, a dream and a challenge all wrapped into one.
There I was, sitting in our monthly Wednesday faculty meeting as we prepared for a collaborative discussion on assessment. The picture above was projected at the front of the room – and unbeknownst to me would catapult me into a journey of what’s and why’s of our educational structures and the expectations that come with them. It is no secret that our high schools in the USA are heavily focused on achievement for college entrance.
A question began to nag at me – why everyone is expected to go to college right away and forced to choose a major so quickly? I often reflect on my college experience and the fact that I changed majors three times until the moment that I went abroad and had the space to ask myself who I was and what I really wanted. If the expectation is for students to go to college, shouldn’t we be helping them to understand why they are spending the time, money, and energy to obtain a degree in a specific field? What about the students who don’t go straight to college – what are their stories?
I don’t know why, but on that day something changed me. That was the beginning of my journey – a few questions and the simple belief that I could do better, do more, and create the kind of change I want see.