The long-held image of a teacher standing in front of a classroom holding a piece of chalk or a dry-erase marker has to die, so says teacher Matinga Ragatz.
Ragatz was Michigan Teacher of the Year in 2011 and earlier this year, she was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame. Now, as a consultant, she's working to help teachers innovate and rethink their roles in the classroom.
Ragatz joined Stateside at our recent live show in East Lansing.
Listen to the full conversation above, or read highlights below.
On how education must change
“Schools are the seeds of economic development,” said Ragatz. As a result, education should follow how the economy is shaping up. Traditional methods of education tend to create a follow-the-leader system, but the economy is “self-directed,” she said. “It’s very important that kids have self-direction, kids know how to self-pace, and kids know how to think independently.” Students, Ragatz suggested, should be able to work on independent research projects for much of the day, instead of allowing their brains to turn off and receive instruction.
On how changing education can shape the future
Training students to make an impact outside the classroom can deepen ties with the community. “Kids who build things in their communities will not participate in the destruction of that community,” said Ragatz. There’s also a pressing need to change the teaching profession. “There is a national crisis, we are really in trouble,” said Ragatz. “Even teachers don’t want their kids to be teachers.” That’s because the profession itself has not changed, while the rest of the world has. It’s time, said Ragatz, to change teaching to reflect the rest of the economy.