Have you noticed the talking points on the cable news stations have suddenly switched to education? It’s hard to tell if it is someone’s agenda or if it is a coincidence, but there seems to be a renewed focus on alternatives to a failing education system. One of these alternatives has been presented by The Blue Man Group, those strange characters who perform on stage with all kinds of objects in order to create unique visuals and music.
How would you like to go to a Blue Man Group high-tech preschool? Yeah, me too. In an article on NPR.org, one of the co-founders of the school says his kid wakes up and says, “Let’s go to Blue School”–on a Saturday morning! Conservatives and traditional educators might be suspicious of this attitude since school is usually one where kids would rather stay home and watch TV. Is Blue School a real school? Or is it just a liberal playground for kids who don’t want to learn?
I have changed my attitudes on education over the years and if it were up to me I would dismantle the public education system brick by brick. Maybe at one time it was necessary when kids worked farms and needed to be forced to learn English and Math, but we live in a high tech world and according to many recent reports we’re getting our asses kicked in science and technology by other countries. It’s time education was reworked, a creative reformation. As much as I love a classic education, there is so much to know that it is impossible to teach it all. I believe school should be about vocation and setting a path for a young person’s life by first presenting the path and then allowing them to choose it. Maybe they will change that path at a later date, but at the very least, they emerge from high school with more career skills than dunking fries into oil.
My educational experience was horrendous. I hated school, I didn’t learn from it and it did not point me into any direction as far as a career path. I didn’t even have a clue what a career was and what it meant for my future. What a waste of tax dollars. Now granted, I take part of that blame for my own folly as a teenager, but what if the high school art class taught extensive art and not all of the half-baked craft projects I remember? What if they developed a person with artistic career interests so they came out of high school with a portfolio for serious illustration or graphic design work good enough to show for a job? Some may say it is unrealistic but I think we fail to see the early potential in kids and leave them to wallow in mediocrity. I wish I would have been pushed instead of coddled.
I’m getting off on a tangent. Blue School may seem strange but the idea is to start at an early age with a focus on kids learning to be hi-tech. They may “play” with materials or “play” with a high tech game. Playing is exploration and it appears what Blue School is doing is what every good educator should do: trick kids into learning. I’m not sure parents realize that traditional education is stagnant and unprepared to deal with the rapid pace of technology. I don’t think our public education can succeed if it stays where it is at. It has to embrace creative thinking and yet school boards have to get the same old test scores and other “traditional” criteria to get funding from the state. Playing can become successful learning but it’s an expensive education and unfortunately will remain in the private system. The founders of Blue Group are doing their best to find an average price per child which is an estimated $27,000 a year. Most parents won’t be able to afford it and the elite shall thrive.
Thankfully, Blue School is one of many alternatives emerging. The economy has sunk state funding for many public school systems and cheaper alternatives are being explored. You’ll be hearing quite a bit of debate on this subject as online junior highs and highschools emerge and even new affordable private institutions popping up with parents demanding a tax credit. I would love to see more involvement by organizations like Blue Group create schools not just for preschoolers but especially teenagers. College should not have to be such a shock when we could do more at a teen level to prepare for it or even match it.