So my district is talking about “doing school different.” Sorry, but haven’t many schools been talking (or avoiding talking) about it for long enough? (See featured image above.)
There’s plenty of reason to stop talking about it and start doing it, and most of the reasons stem all the way back to Postman and Weingartner, if not John Dewey himself. But then there’s this blog post, the first lines of which are chilling: more or less they are, “We’re not helping kids…we’re actually imperiling them!” If this is true, and I tend to think, given all the voices in this direction, that it is, how much time can we waste? How much of my own children’s time is being lost to outdated, outmoded, never-more-than-compliance-seeking methods of learning? This isn’t just about my district doing school different…this is about every school. You can call me an evangelist…fine. I’ll be evangelical if that’s what it takes to make sure my own children and those children I serve are provided with a thought-ful classroom. And if that means I’m called on the carpet…then fine, because I refuse to be complicit in a thought-crime. If my refusal paints me as crazy…then I’ll accept that. “Here’s to the crazy ones/the misfits, the rebels/the round-pegs in the square holes/the ones who see things differently….about the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.”
I know the following reeks of clickbait, but the article’s title is:
Traditional School Imperils Kids; They Need to Be Innovators
As well, it implies an agenda (creating business-world ready “innovators”). But don’t make me a Cassandra. Too many people are shouting the same prophecies. We need to change how we are doing. (Emerson said as much: “A foolish consistency is the Hobgoblin of little minds.”)
And sure, the Institution offers a pretense of change. It has catch phrases, it goes through the motions of “change.” But are enough of our institutions of schooling doing so? And more important, are they doings so quickly enough? I don’t see it. But the rocks are starting to roll thanks to people and organizations like Ken Robinson, Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon, Grant Lichtman, Education Reimagined, and countless others.
And so time ticks, and our incremental “hops and skips” of change often go nowhere. We wind up with “change fatigue”, with teachers who “pay lip service to in-service,” but then retreat into their classrooms and do what they’ve always done, or try something new, fail, and then go back to what they’ve always done. Such a pattern, and it’s what I’ve seen for over a decade now, is the pathway to irrelevancy. Worse, it admits an abdication of the responsibility of the teacher to “do no harm” to those in his/her charge.
We can do better, we can be better, we must be better.