Over the years there have been so many plans and programs designed to improve the quality of education in America. However, after all these plans and programs, politicians, educators, and others are still talking about how something needs to be done to improve the quality of education in America.
I think a famous Fisk University (located in Nashville, Tennessee) professor from the early Twentieth Century had the answer to improving education. His name was James Weldon Johnson. He was a writer and one of the early leaders of the NAACP. Here’s a quote from Johnson that gives his view of education.
Johnson said: “Not the school, nor the teachers, but the student is the preponderant factor in education.” Odd isn’t it, how our plans and programs have tried to fix schools or teachers? But what about the students?
A highly motivated student will learn in a bad school or with a bad teacher or even with no school and no teacher. On the other hand, an unmotivated, uninterested student won’t learn in the best school with the best teachers.
Right now, I’m sitting in my living room with my nephew who went to high school in a poor, rural county. He made all As. Meanwhile he taught himself web design. His high school graduated him six months early because they said they had taught him all they could. He then went to college, but after a week decided that he could learn better on his own. Now he is twenty-one, runs his own web design company, and travels the world designing web sites. (He just returned from months in the Ukraine.)
Perhaps we should listen to James Weldon Johnson and find ways to make students hungry for knowledge. Maybe, instead of trying to fill disinterested minds with information our educational system deems important, we should try to find out what students really want to learn about and then help them go for that knowledge?