You may remember the old Roadrunner cartoons where Wile E. Coyote, distracted by his mad pursuit of his prey, runs right off the edge of a cliff before pausing in mid-air. Oddly, he’s fine as long as he doesn’t look down and notice the reality of his situation.
Don’t get excited – I’m not diving into current events or anything. (I’m far too demure for such things.) In fact, I’m intentionally avoiding the subject at the moment because any effort I make to write rationally about what we’ve become ends up as a spittle-spewing, obscenity-laden rant and, worse, totally off-brand.
Even if all we care about are the standards and the exams and the skills and the content, the best way to make that medicine is with motivated, supported educators well-aware of expectations but with substantial autonomy to adopt and adapt as they see fit based on the kids in front of them and the unique reality they radiate. I’m not saying there’s no role for online courses or commonly agreed upon curriculum across your departments, but setting aside the ethics of treating students as interchangeable receptacles, the vast majority of the time it simply doesn’t work.
Because they’re not.
I'm always surprised what people ask about at conferences or in small group settings. That's not a criticism, just a reminder that sometimes we don't know as much as we think we do about what people want, need, or might take an interest in.