By | Spencer Childress
It seems true that students, parents, and educators all hold student success as a goal worthy of pursuing in public education settings. However, the subjective ways in which diverse humans define success presents potential incongruence between internally developed and externally imposed ways of thinking. In this issue of the Denver Journal of Education and Community, you hear Denver metro community members, alumni and current students describe experiencing this incongruence with the idea of success.
In many instances, public schools may have placed the proverbial cart before the horse. Schools prioritize good grades, good college, then good job and if there’s time, learn who you are, what you value, and how to define success, happiness, and community. Doesn’t this feel backwards? We learn in this issue that the assembly line nature of public schooling is not lost on people, even if they can’t necessarily describe it as it’s happening. In order to develop an authentic definition of success, this issue suggests first developing a knowledge of self and community, safe opportunities to explore and fail, and an awareness of the inherent dignity that all students hold simply by being human.
This type of learning will not just happen because we want it to. Educators and policy makers need to reorient themselves to the word success and take a long-term approach when it comes to student outcomes. This might mean de-emphasizing how a 17 year-old scores on a math assessment and instead considering how holistically well adjusted that same person will be at 27. Many of the ways schools currently define success for students are rooted in flawed ideas of meritocracy, individualism and college as the “great equalizer”, even as it becomes less clear if the cost of a Bachelor’s degree is worth the benefit (Marcus, 2021). Our communities and our students want to know who they are personally before they are asked to decide what they are professionally — a reasonable request in my opinion. We hope you enjoyed reading this issue of DJEC, but more than that, we hope you consider the meaning of
success in your life, and in the lives of the young people in the Denver metro area.
Spencer is the director of the Denver Journal of Education and Community
Will that college degree pay off? A look at some of the numbers. (2021). Jon Marcus. https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2021/11/01/college-degree-value-major/