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Re-imagining the Educational System- Wishes for the Upcoming School Year

For the last twenty-odd years, at the start of the school year, I have found myself imagining what the ideal school setting would be for my children. I always envision an inclusive, equitable school environment that enables all children to learn, create, and thrive while preparing them for the workplace (and society) of the future.

At present, the educational system still has a long way to go in order to achieve these ideals.

In light of this, I would like to request that educators and policymakers consider implementing the following changes to help this vision become a reality:

  • Learning environments should become more dynamic and skill-focused to prepare children for the workplace of the future. Curriculums should concentrate on developing cognitive and social-emotional skills and abilities such as:
    • Complex problem-solving
    • Critical thinking
    • Social-emotional awareness and understanding
    • Adaptability and flexibility
    • The ability to decipher between relevant and irrelevant information
    • Creative thinking
    • Collaboration
    • Determination and grit
    • Curiosity
    • Time management
  • Children should also learn additional skills they will need in the workplace, including things like computer literacy, typing, researching, and more.
  • Learning should incorporate exciting, dynamic, stimulating methodologies such as PBL (problem or project-based learning), SEL (social-emotional learning), or any other methodology that facilitates student participation, is interactive, and enables children to initiate projects and bring to fruition their creative ideas.
  • Standardized testing and teaching to the test should be deemed irrelevant and disappear.
  • Education should become more inclusive and equitable!
    This means that:
    • Teaching should no longer be geared toward the success of the average student. Every student should be encouraged to progress at their own pace.
    • Student’s progress should be measured only in comparison to themselves- and not to their classmates.
    • Students’ individual talents and abilities should be sought out, discovered, and encouraged.
    • Subjects such as language, mathematics, etc. should be taught in many fun and different ways, not only by memorizing or filling in textbooks. Things like cooking lessons, designing gardens, building objects, or putting on a historical play are a few examples of how this can be done.
    • Educators must come to understand that the world needs people who work in all different types of professions, and every student has a different “calling” in life. Every profession is valuable and necessary. People enjoy and excel at different things.
    • For this reason (and many more), educational programs should be well-rounded and give children hands-on opportunities to explore and develop things that are of interest to them.
    • “Different -but not lesser!” should be the attitude of educators regarding neurodiversity, as well as disabilities in general!
    • This would help children to learn to understand those who are different from them and would lead to a much more inclusive environment and society.
    • This being said, the educational system needs to ensure that every child receives the support they need to succeed and to achieve their true potential. All children should be given the tools that enable them to progress and succeed, whether it be supplementary assistance, the opportunity to work in small groups, to submit projects rather than undergo formal testing, and to use assistive devices when necessary!
    • Children should be permitted to receive accommodations or to use assistive devices in a manner that resembles the norm in workplace environments in the “real world”- particularly in the higher grades. In many instances, the school system is far more restrictive than work environments. Children are forced into high-speed testing situations and are not permitted to use assistive tools or devices or to take the time that they need to problem-solve. They are not given alternatives, such as project-driven educational opportunities- which are far more representative of real-life work environments and would likely increase their performance.
      Many children, and in particular neurodivergent children who have been diagnosed with things such as ADHD, dyslexia, APD (auditory processing disorder), SPD (sensory processing disorder), Irlen syndrome, and autism often fail or receive low grades due to these restrictions. Their true abilities are not reflected in their test scores, which leads to frustration, low self-esteem, and a wealth of additional problems. This is not equitable education.
    • Parents, teachers, students, and administrators should all work together to help each other, the community, and society at large.
    • Equity and inclusion in education should become the norm, for everyone, everywhere, and should cross ALL divides!
    • Every educator should receive the training necessary to ensure that they have the skills and understanding to enable equity and inclusion!

I pray that this year we will begin to see changes like these implemented in schools around the globe and that they will lead toward a brighter future for all.

In addition, and perhaps most importantly, I hope and pray that this upcoming year will bring good health to all and that students from around the world will be able to learn face-to-face with their teachers and peers!

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Jacki Edry

Jacki Edry

Jacki Edry is a graduate of Hampshire College and has an extensive background in education, writing, and marketing. She has been exploring the world of autism and neurodiversity for over thirty-five years. 

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