As we rail against the corporatization of  everything else,  sooner or later we’d eventually arrive at education.

It makes sense.  As we tried to apply structures to our school system, we used the corporate model as the template.

Create a system to standardize performance, then modify or train new personnel to fit into that system, then chunk out learned pupils.

We are now in the process of searching for a new system.

When any accomplished person is asked, why did you strive to excel in school, they inevitably turn to a single individual who motivated  them.

Those who never make that connection with a mentor,  simply flow through the system bouncing off the walls..  I speak for myself, and I bet most of you do as well.  When asked why we chose to be like we were, we all have a mentor somewhere in our past, who happen to push the right buttons.

How can we apply that to today’s school system?   By increasing the number of human beings as teaching personnel.  20 – 22 students appears to be the ideal ratio among teachers.  It gives them enough personal time to know the students, and enough time to leave them to do their work.

In a class of 40, sure, there are three or four who bond with that teacher, and they go on to do well in life.  But the thirty seven others just flow through the system, barely having a clue what is being taught.  They certainly can’t remember any of it the following year.

When we have classes that big, we are consciously writing off a large portion of society.  We are saying, 20% will never make it.   However, could we have a smaller class and the opportunity for a teacher to work one on one, perhaps that high of a statistic might not occur.

We all learn by mentoring.   That is how we are wired.  We need to bond with that person who is doing the teaching.  It’s in our genes.  We, as a species, need encouragement to learn; we have psychological needs that the grownup corporate philosophy, simply can’t fulfill.

It boils down to this;  “I like you so I want to learn what you know.”

As we move to testing students at the beginning of the year and then at the end of the year,  and remove people from their employment if we feel they did not succeed in moving the needle far enough, we are creating an environment directly opposite to how thousands, if not millions of years of evolution have wired our learning processes.

An environment of fear, is directly opposite to how one learns.   Fear cause one to learn how not to do something.  Not how to… do something.

What we once had in schools, was a personal relationship that started from the principal, flowed down through the teachers, encompassing the students on the bottom.  All thought they were part of a unit, a unit called the school.  All felt that contributing in some way to the school, in part contributed something back into themselves.

We have success stories.  Newark High School appears to be on the right track.  Students there appear enthused to learn at that location.  5 years back, it was not that way at Christiana High School.  A year ago, it was not that way at Glasgow.

The big part of the problem is that in taking kids and moving them 12-16 miles away, then moving them back, we cut the cord connecting them with their community.  As adults, when you get transferred to another location as a sub,  do you sweat?  No, you take it as an easy day; one in which you have not real responsibility. “Sorry, I didn’t know; I’m just a sub.. ”

So do these kids, when you pull them out of Wilmington and plop them in an ancient looking (1960’s) structure, and parade them around like they are in a circus parade.  (Watch out for the wild animals, there children….)

For a long term solution, we need neighborhood schools.  We need the state to take over a new district carved out of Wilmington so funding is equal.  We need to build new inner city schools.  Wiping out a few crack houses sure couldn’t hurt.  These inner city schools would become magnet schools.  The best teachers would be well paid to work there.

Removing the inner city burden would benefit suburban schools.  Classrooms would shrink, causing the tax base to become more in line with expenses.  All of New Castle County would benefit with the establishment of  a Wilmington School District funded by state funds in control of the General Assembly.

Life is trial and error.  As the corporate way begins to lose it opulence,  we need to return to the realization,  that learning is an emotional, as well as a rational process.

Those teachers who are most successful, are the ones lucky enough to have smaller classes and interact well with their students.  That is the ultimate direction both unions and corporate interests need to take us….