Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Is Education a Mudslide?

By on February 5, 2010

“It’s like trying to stop a flow of lava with a Scott’s paper towel. It’s been this way for years!” The lady who said this wasn’t talking about education, but she could very well have been. The lady in question is my mom who took this picture of the view from her home office. 

She looks out on a hillside opposite her side of a rustic canyon in Los Angeles. In case you can’t tell, it’s a photo of workmen slapping tarps onto a hillside that has been threatening to bury Laurel Canyon Blvd for quite some time. Somehow the view reminds me of education.

After all,

The city waits until it rains before trying to solve the problem.

The solution is asinine, a mere Band-Aid to a greater problem that lies beneath the bandage.

Residents who have lived watching this hillside for years saw it coming.

Had the city just taken care of the problem and spent the money to create foundations for the hillside, the residents and commuters that use the canyon wouldn’t be in this predicament, a predicament which threatens houses as well as a key thoroughfare through the Hollywood mountains.

Sound familiar?

Mom could be talking about any issue in education or any school site in this country. Rick Wormeli writes in his newest book, Metaphors and Analogies: Power Tools for Teaching Any Subject, that we should be using these literary devices in our teaching. But perhaps we should also be using them to speak to civilians about educational policy.

We within the school walls have long predicted education’s current plague of issues. You see the same themes in teachers’ writings and concerns dating back for decades. But Race to the Top, No Child Left Behind, and countless other laws and bills have been mere Band-Aids that aren’t helping to solidify our dreams for education any more than these tarps are going to save my mother’s beloved canyon.

The money is being spent, sure. Tarps and Band-Aids can add up, after all. But is it really being spent on that which will help the foundations of education?

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