“We have to change our schools, but if that is not preceded or accompanied by a change in our thinking, in our preconceptions, in how we regard what and where children are, in our imaginativeness and boldness — absent these changes we will again confirm the maxim that the more things change, the more they stay the same.” -Seymour Sarason
In the rush to update education, we often confuse new for innovative and conflate old with outdated. We look at what is trendy to guide our decisions. Trapped in the tyranny of the urgent, we don’t have the time or energy to consider the complexity of the problems we are trying to challenge. Instead, we throw around terms such as inquiry, agency, and learner-focused with the same effort entailed in putting a slipcover over an old couch.
The terms in of themselves, do not change the learning. Do not change the learning environment. Do not change our roles. Do not change how we view the curriculum. The “slipcover” hides the real work to be done. we need to strip bare our language and reveal what we really mean. What we are really talking about. Get out from under terms that are the right mix of ambiguous and politically correct.
I don’t know EXACTLY what you are talking about but it sounds about right…and I have heard that term a lot lately… I’m in!
From there, you know how it goes.
New templates and organizers. more sessions. new books. And of course, new stuff. Cause that really proves if we are doing something different.
I sure like what you’ve done to your classroom! I should do that, too! Like I can just order all this stuff from Amazon? Cool.
Bada-boom-bada-bing, you are in business. The business of keeping up with the Jones. The business of being cutting edge. The business of catching up with the bandwagon before it leaves town.
Don’t get me wrong. I love books. I love new stuff. We need items for classrooms. New materials and books can be a catalyst for the change process. But it’s just not that simple.
A slipcover alone is a simple solution to a complex problem. We might have to save for a new couch. We might have to learn how to recover the old couch. Both will take time. Both will take patience. Both will take unwavering focus on what really matters.
…but I really wanted a quick fix. I wanted to just get on with it. Like let’s get it done. NOW.
This world moves fast. Every answer is just a couple of clicks away. It’s understandable that we want educational change to feel exactly the same.
What if we were brave enough to start from our beliefs? To speak of our beliefs. First. To stop and stand in our beliefs. Brave enough to ignore the siren call of sameness.
What if we started with clear and straightforward conversations about what we believe about learning? No fancy terms. No new books. No new templates. Just learning.
What if we stubbornly and patiently stuck with just that? Just that.
“The phrase ‘what matters’ is shorthand for our capacity to dream, to reclaim our freedom, to be idealistic, and to give our lives to those things which are vague, hard to measure, and invisible.” -Peter Block