V5 (5 Things 1 Topic)

5 Things – Education

One of the real shortcomings of the modern climbing gym is the way in which learning to climb has been democratized. Sure, you’ll learn how to safely climb, and belay.  You’ll learn the dangers, the jargon, and some best practices.  By the time the class is done, you will have the ability to climb safely in the gym.  From there you can go to other gyms and also climb safely.  Once you have enough experience, you can then teach other climbers to climb safely in gyms as well.  The problem is that the education one receives from a climbing gym is limited to one type of climbing in one type of setting.  That is great for gyms and gym climbers, but not so much for the world of climbing that exists outside of climbing gyms.  Making the transition from indoor climber to outdoor climber is not just a matter of doing the same thing in a different setting.  There are volumes of dangers that exist outside that will never occur inside.  Forget a headlamp or flashlight outside and it could literally be lights out.  Come with the wrong type of clothing, or wrong type of rope, or lack of gear and things can get pretty sketchy in a hurry.  Then there are the skills it takes to navigate hidden trails, or the awareness of air pressure at altitude.  Not to leave out the importance of proper wall and trail maintenance.  I have seen graffiti and litter at nearly every crag I’ve been to.  

Some gyms offer classes to help transition, but not most, and never is it mandated.  I get it and I’m not knocking it; gyms aren’t and shouldn’t be responsible for the education of their patrons, but in other settings, education is mandated, and thus some institutions should be held responsible for the education of their patrons. 

Public classroom education is one such example where education is mandated, and it has some room to improve.  A public education should not be like the climbing gym. When students finish their degrees, they should be able to go out in the world and not be shocked about the dangers, or how different the outside world is from the safety of their classroom.  Here are 5 Things that could improve public education at the elementary school level.

  1. It starts with the classroom teacher.  Teaching is hard, it’s a lot of work.  PAY TEACHERS MORE MONEY!  They deserve it, it’s insane how little they get paid.  Anyone who isn’t incensed that some teachers have to take on a second job to make ends meet is empathetically bankrupt.  Dealing with students is one thing, dealing with administration is another, and dealing with parents is something else altogether.  Education is important and education is expensive, and in the end you get what you pay for.
  2. Coding.  Coding should be mandatory curriculum for all students at all levels.  There was a day when a student could graduate from high school and join the workforce to immediately make a living with nothing more than the tools they acquired from school.  Learning to code from kindergarten on brings that option back into play.
  3. Dissemination of information.  Social media isn’t going anywhere.  Entertainment news isn’t going anywhere.  These things came at us fast.  Faster than anyone could have expected.  Our inability to disseminate factual non-biased information from non-factual biased information is a chasm that most of us will never climb out of.  This is not a quality that a free democracy can withstand.  Change came quickly and caught most of us off guard, but that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.  Learning how disseminate information has become an essential skill, and it should be incorporated into a public-school education. 
  4. Farming.  This one may seem a little bit out there, but teach students how to farm.  Our dependence on box grocery stores, and commercial foods is out of control.  Our survival is at the whim of an intricate chain in which one faulty link can lead to massive problems.  A drought, a flood, a supply issue, a worker shortage, if any number of things go wrong a bunch of us ignorant morons will be left to fend for ourselves.  Backyard farming seems to be a skill that most of our ancestors would approve of.  Why aren’t there more community farms/gardens at public schools around the globe?
  5. Recess.  Can we get some more time for these kids to play?  Between the long division (do kids still learn long division?) and the history lessons, and the coding, and farming, and writing, and reading, can we just take some time to let these kids run around and be kids?

Of course, these are not the only five things, there are probably a million other things that are just as pressing if not more so, especially things like child safety, the abolition of standardized tests, bullying, special needs, etc.… These are just five things that I would want to see on a comprehensive list of educational improvements.


30 Replies to “V5 (5 Things 1 Topic)”

  1. Interesting list! I would not have thought about including coding in the curriculum for children. The most valuable class I took in high school was typing, which may soon be obsolete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! Great analogy of types of learning to climb and how our public schools operate. I am not a climber but love to read your pieces like this using climbing to look at the world. Not only do I learn something about the climbing world, I learn to look at things a bit differently…stretching my brain a bit. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great article. The public school system is certainly lacking on some ends. That one reason we choose to homeschool. If these 5 were integrated it might change my mind. Until then we will homeschool and climb outside

    Liked by 1 person

  4. No long division. New math. And you have to show your work in the most confusing and ridiculous way possible. Fifteen years ago I’d try to help my sons with homework. I’d get the right answer (the old-fashioned 1970’s math way), and my boys would tell me the teacher wouldn’t accept it because they didn’t show the new math way of getting there. So so stupid! I could never understand why it mattered if the answer was correct. In real life the answer matters not some silly, complicated method of reaching it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And history repeats itself. In the ’60s & ’70s my parents were angry about “The New Math” – basically obtaining the same answer with a longer process. Want speed? My grandma used the Trachtenberg Method!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love it! I agree with all of it. The farming — believe it wholeheartedly. It was a major part of my ideal school. Maybe you’d enjoy Goethe’s Wilhelm Meisters Apprenticeship — Goethe describes his ideal school. I think you’d really appreciate it. And, it’s a beautiful novel.

    Long division — I guess in 2013 a kid came to me upset about his grade. I said, “Dude, all your grades are on Blackboard, did you look at them? It automatically averages them as you go along, you know.”


    “Let’s average them.” He read them off to me and I wrote them down. I explained the university point system, added them up and then divided. The kid was, “What are you doing?”

    “Long division?”

    “I’ve never seen that.”

    “Get out your calculator. You do it.” Turned out he’d never thought even to use the tools he already had to figure out if his grade was right or not, including talking to his teacher. Problem solving is a big skill kids need to learn.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yikes! I wonder how some students make it as far as they do. There has been a pretty big push recently to get professors more involved in getting students to pass their class, I am not for that movement though as I maintain that failing a class can be just as or more educational than passing.

      Sometimes failing is the best thing that can happen…okay I better stop here before this turns into a rant about the omniscience of administration.

      I’ll check out that book today Martha, Goethe has never let me down!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Funny — I used to ask my students, “Raise your hand if you’ve ever failed?” Some did (the brave ones) and I said, “Way to go! Me too!” and, if they asked, I told them.

        Failure has a lot of character that passing doesn’t, like taking a chance? Standing up to a professor? Not understanding something and not asking for help when you should? An indication of what’s for you and what’s not? A moment for introspection? I totally respect failure. I excelled at it. The GPA that got me a full ride to grad school would be totally unacceptable to any student today: 2.75, C+

        Times and student expectations of grades have changed.

        IMO, the worst thing to happen to education is its having been turned into a commodity. Student reviews can be helpful to a teacher, but a class is not Amazon, and a teacher’s effectiveness (this is at administration) is NOT measurable either by student evals or the class GPA, but those were the standards by which we got or did not get classes. Seriously. I would be seriously chastised if I “gave” too many A’s. At the same time, students were angry at C grades so student evals were less than stellar. In real life there’s NO connection between the two and when that changed — teaching changed.

        When I was in university D was a passing grade.

        That book has some beautiful poetry in it. I just love it.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Well said, could not agree more with the gym climbing vs actual rock face climbing example. Too much of education happens only in books in a classroom and not enough is taught about how these concepts actually play out in real life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Terri thank you for the comment, hopefully the conversation keeps going and we gain some momentum on things like this!


  7. Great list – I would change farming to life skills and cover, as you said, farming, animal care, cooking, cleaning, tax, and things like sewing, knitting, crotchet, as well as basic car maintenance and woodwork: to everyone. I grew up in remote rural communities and everyone needed to know a little bit of everything.

    Also into the dissemination of information, I would add critical thinking; so that people learn to see things like bias and learn how to question the information that are being provided.

    I love this idea of 5 things 1 topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love those additions! I was so close to putting critical thinking instead of information. Expanding farming is for sure the way to go though, some school board somewhere HAS to be thinking these things, right?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Regrettably, probably only in alternative schools or in classes for people not seeking to go to university :-/

        I think you have more faith in school boards than I do!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I agree. And I was just thinking the other day how ridiculous that celebrities get paid millions of dollars and gain so much notoriety when teachers do not. It should be the other way around.

    I also agree that in many settings and occupations there should always be field training on the outside as well as classroom education and instruction to prepare us and to get us better equipped. There is no better learning than from one’s own firsthand experience.

    My mother was born in 1954. She told me years ago how when she went to junior high and high school back then how they had sewing, laundry, cooking and many other basic life and work skills taught inside the schools to aid and to help advance kids and young adults to grow, interact, discover.

    My mother said she was very disappointed when they took those advantages out of the school.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Farming is not out of range. In fact, it is a great idea.

    It introduces cultivation in a sense of inspiring enterprise to those who vision.

    Crops are essential to living and surviving.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. So true! that educating students must be made more relevant as per the change the world has seen ,to equip the 21 st century skills in the school goers .Coding and farming must be on the priority list .

    Liked by 2 people

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