Saturday, February 13, 2010

Education Reform- How then shall we be led?

flickr CC image via bpende

**With the utmost respect, and in response to Aaron Eyler's "Some Things Educators Need to Stop Saying" post (Synthesizing Education Blog) 

With all due respect, (and I don't necessarily disagree with you,) there are many professionals among us who aren't as attuned to the realities of education reform that you allude to. The terminology, (rhetoric as you refer to it,) educators are using to attempt to make sense of the change going on around them is just that; terminology.

I personally appreciate your honesty, and I get the "good fun" element of your post, but in all seriousness, I think you illuminate a much larger and complicated issue in education. You refer to the transparency and lack of substance of statements such as "who wants to leave a child behind?" I agree; this is a feeble statement, however I also believe that our agreement on the feebleness of this statement would not be shared wholely by the rest of the audience who heard it. Here's the rub: teachers NEED to be led. Many, many teachers buy into this sort of 'rhetoric' because our North American education system has left them feeling powerless to think for themselves, be creative and serve their students instinctually. The focus on externally placed standards of practice and curriculum in North America has become so pervasive that teachers have literally lost the ability to think for themselves, and even worse, lost the priveledge of sharing their professional insight with the continental institution of educational planning and policy-making that assigns these controls.

So, although I agree with your tongue-in-cheek commentary on the educational version of stating the obvious, (the 'child-centered classroom' is another favorite of mine,) I really believe that teachers latch onto these statements hanging on for dear life because they have been left feeling under-valued, controlled and manipulated to the point where any statement about education perceived to be well-meaning and designed to influence thought and perspective becomes popular.

I also wholeheartedly agree that it's time to just get on with things in education. However, to do this, a revised form of leadership would suit the task. I share your fondness for integrative thinking, and honestly (perhaps simplistically) this concept is where we need to begin. There have been many reforms, statements, programs, catch-phrases and movements in education... not all of these were, or are unsound. What we need to do is combine what has been good for education in the past with the best of what forward-thinking educators can come up with today, and design our own destiny.

This is possible.
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