We are in an uphill battle in education. We are fighting TTWWHADI That's The Way We Have Always Done It! Education is rich in tradition however we often hold onto ways that are outdated and in some cases detrimental to our students. I have had many conversations with adults of my parents generation discussing how education was when they were in school. They discuss having to memorize the Preamble of the Constitution, and other facts, never having a snow day, the ruler smacks to the knuckles and other horror stories. Some I find difficult to believe but they do tell the stories with passion. The point being they reminisce about their experiences as being sound educational practices.
There are amazing conversations about education both the great things happening and ideas for reform occurring daily. These discussions happen in person in school hallways, at conferences on line via Social Media, and in many other ways.
1. The establishment. There is a large bureaucracy in education that is often difficult to make progress due to the size of organization.
2. Outside forces. Educational decisions are often influenced or made based on powerful forces like legislative bodies, educational supply corporations like textbook or testing companies.
3. Contentment. - There are those who believe that the way things have been are as good as they can or should be. Those who think if it was good enough for me when I was in school, why do students need it today.
4. Lack of Funding.- To create innovation we often have to invest in new or different resources. This is often expensive when you apply the multiplier effect. It is often difficult to get public funding when it is one of the few opportunities taxpayers have a direct say on whether they want to pay more taxes. There is no vote on funding war, or other policies, but there is a vote for education.
5. Lack of cohesive vision.-
There may never be one agreed upon vision for education, but we need to formulate some non-negotiable aspects of our vision for education. Here are some possible examples:
1. Education must be student centered.
2. Education must be relevant and meaningful for students
3. Education must be engage students as active participants
4. Education must give students voice and choice.
5. Education must develop student skills to be problem solvers, thinkers and creators.
I could add other ideas that should be considered such as rethinking our grading and homework practices. There are still those who think extra credit for turning assignments in early, or bringing in school supplies deserve extra credit. Or those who think we should punish students for not doing homework by down grading them for turning it in late or not at all. Those are topics that people still debate about. These are just a couple examples of why a common vision in education can be difficult to achieve.
It is however worth engaging in the difficult conversations to challenge our own thinking and that of others because each time it leads us closer to making changes in our own and other's educational practices. The real change in education may come through grass roots activities generating large support that eventually grows into systematic change. We must start with dialogue on vision and mission and back it up with modeling best practices for others to emulate.