10 Ways Edu-folk Know How to Mess Up a Good Thing

Posted on May 15, 2010. Filed under: assessment, classroom related, leadership related, testing, thinking aloud |

If it is good then…

…we should do it more often. Ice cream is good, folks.  That does not mean I (in particular)  should be doing it more often.  There is an educational quality to something that is NOVEL.  Novelty sparks interest, curiosity, motivation.  Not all good things need to be done in large amounts and some good things are absolutely ruined by being done in large amounts.

…we should do it in more depth.  Some things are meant to be short and simple. I once knew a teacher who had 29 rules for behavior that she interspersed throughout her walls, curriculum, and speeches.  I have no idea how she had time to teach.  Some things are best done in limited ways and do not require more.

…we should require everyone to do it. Honestly, no one needs to see me in the latest fashion inspired by Lady Gaga.  Not all good things are a good fit everywhere and on everyone. First graders do not have the developmental milestones that allow them to do what fifth graders do.  Students in the city may not connect as well with literature that draws in the rural crowd. We are a diverse people and I would hope educators embrace and promote that.

…we should require fidelity in implementation. Ok.  Implementation is the stumbling block of every educational reform.  We all know about the “teachers close their doors and do their thing” stumbling block.  Does anyone really believe requiring fidelity to any implementation fixes teacher autonomy?  Fidelity wreaks of blind loyalty.  I want my teachers understanding and believing in what they are doing. Without teacher belief, fidelity to implementation is meaningless.  Students can FEEL the disbelief; can’t everyone?

…we should market it. Seems like we want to reduce things to something we can do/say in a 30 second commercial spot.  Everything needs a catchy name, that name must be trademarked so no one else can use it, and then an entire consulting firm needs to grow out of it.

…we should give it an acronym. It is as if education were the precursor to Twitter; everything is renamed with an Acronym.  We are even starting to develop Acronyms with heightened spelling issues (RtI??). I once had to take a quiz on acronyms during a professional development (PD).  Here are a few: SDAIE, IDEA, RSP, SDC, DI, PBL, PLC, POI, ELD, CELDT, GATE, SPT, LDS, etc.  I begin to think: WTF?

…If it is good, it will need to be tested with a standardized test. Student integrity is unlikely to be testable in a Multiple Choice format. Student writing is best assessed when read. Persistence of effort may be assessable, but not through bubbles. I could go on and on.  Do these things matter to us?

…we should quickly spread the innovation. Spreading means diluting, and that is usually what happens to quickly growing enterprises in education.  How about we let them percolate and grow, instead of multiply and spread? The reform pendulum has done so much more damage than good.  Patience is a virtue and we in education need to embrace that a bit more.  I understand that the Japanese developed lesson study over DECADES.  They do not switch curriculums every seven years, they wait TEN years and then they only switch out parts. Why can’t we do that?

…we should convince the politicians. How about we stop engaging the political machinations, and start working with each other to make change?  When we use politicians and political movements to make change it seems to me to reduce what we do to cliche.  Can’t we trust ourselves and have the important conversations on a local level where it counts? Are we too afraid to talk about what needs to be done with each other?  Our friends, neighbors, colleagues, and students?  Our local universities, our teachers, our parents, all talking about what we need to do to make education count? This is likely to be more real, more powerful, and more persuasive than any platform from elected folk.

…we should not change it. Sometimes good things have to move over for great things to get started.


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