Our elevator has been overtaken by kudzu. We are smothered in procedure and policy so tangled as to preclude substantive progress. Unless we find the will and the means to destroy the roots of this system, our continued efforts to prune or pretty up the results will continue to be futile.
We’re can’t even agree on WHAT we should be measuring – which subjects, which skills, and at what level. Should we one day solve that (we won’t), we’ll still have to reach some sort of consensus HOW we can evaluate whatever it is with any sort of accuracy or consistency (we can’t) – and all at lowest-bidder prices.
Fear not, my Eleven Faithful Followers – for I am about to reveal to you the final truth regarding this matter. I am confident my solution is both eloquent and attainable, for that is how I roll. You might want to sit down for this.
I’m a fairly narcissistic fellow. I don’t mean to be, it’s just that I’m vain and self-absorbed. At least I have the skills, style, and cojones to make it work for me. I make no apologies; every rose has it’s - oh, are you still here? I hadn’t noticed.
This is not a year I’ve been proud of. I’ve had a few over the past sixteen years that have sucked for reasons largely outside my control, but this is the first time since those first few semesters that I’ve felt almost entirely responsible – not as a cause, but as someone who knew better in terms of MY responses, and didn’t do it.
Few of us, teachers or no, like change or higher demands on our time and energy – especially when they come from people who have no idea what we do or what they’re talking about. I’d like to respectfully suggest, however, that we make note of some of the assumptions behind most education reform talk. If the assumptions are accurate, then we can debate the best course forward.
If, however, the majority of ‘reform’ rhetoric is based on mistaken assumptions or intentionally propagated inaccuracies, then those assumptions and assertions must first be corrected. Otherwise, anything built upon them is destined to fail – and perhaps do great harm along the way.
A little healthy skepticism in the form of asking the right questions can also act as a filter for the loaded language and passionate diatribes of others, whether legislators or cult leaders. Nothing circumvents clear thinking like a sense of urgency or emergency.
In 1850, as part of a collection of legislation intended to once again defer civil war, the Fugitive Slave Act (FSA) was passed. It had always been technically true that escape by a slave to a ‘free state’ did not mean they were legally free, but in practice, reaching Ohio or New York dramatically reduced the chance they'd ever be forced back into bondage.
I’ve already laid out six posts of historical analogies involving land and culture and race. These not only make it sound like I’m smarter than I actually am, but they correlate in a very real way with actual problems in education today. It’s time to fix it.
Are the schools going to be a part of that? They’d have to, I’d think. But they’re not enough.
Sometimes we just make things too complicated.
How do we this? How do we that? How can we overhaul our public education system without changing anything about it? How do we reach diverse students from inequitable backgrounds and make them all the same person by 3rd grade? How do we recruit and retain higher quality teachers without increasing fiscal incentives, but while stomping out every last vestige of the things that used to make it a fulfilling career? How do we patch up old wineskins to endure new wine without bursting?
Simple - we don’t. But that’s OK, because the old wineskins have outlived their usefulness. And just between you and me, new wineskins needn’t be all that complex or much more expensive than the old – and they might just lead to much better varieties of wine.
There is no greater sin against pedagogical piety than sit-down, shut-up, paper-pushing. How dare you limit and categorize them with due dates! Grades! Assignments! Stop ruining the future, you maladaptive crony!
Facing such venom, the façade of technological revolution has had to settle for second place – runner-up status in the ranking of all things shameful... until now.