I read a lot of crazy posts, tweets, blogs, writings, etc…about educational reform. Some are really good, some are really bad and some of it just plain crazy, but I love reading it all. I have to admit that I am starting to get annoyed/saddened more and more about the general consensus from many of these writings.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot going on in the educational world that needs to be addressed, and just staying status quo is not going to cut it. The world is changing at an exponential rate, and it is hard for any entity or system with so many levels to change at a matching rate, but the ideas coming from a lot of reformers just seem off to me.
“Most traditional schools as they exist now will not be successful, so do what I think will be successful.” I know I am generalizing, but often that is followed with, “look at what I am doing right now…it is good…we are doing better than those people over there.” [Side note…I hate the choose us because we are not them syndrome for schools as well as anything else in life. I am a believer in choosing us because we are _______ or we stand for __________.]
I am not a huge Star Wars fan, I like the movies and all, but I am not dressing in a Storm Trooper costume when I go see one at the theater. But as I was watching Rogue One, I realized a couple characters were great archetypes for the major educational reform camps.
Many of the expert reformers want to blow the entire system up…traditional education is failing us and it is the end of the world, blow it up and create something completely new. They are like Grand Moff Tarkin in many ways. Grand Moff Tarkin wanted to create (or steal it from Krennic) a weapon that was different from anything that ever existed before that would change the landscape of the time. He wanted to change the power balance forever, and he wanted to be the one in charge of the power once the change occurred.
I am not saying school reformers want to control everything or want all the power, that part of the analogy is not so strong. But I do think the idea of blowing up the current system completely is not only a bad idea, I think it would never happen.
The U.S. school system, good or bad, antiquated or not, is a part of our culture and society. I do not think it is a good use of an educational reformer to try and blow it up completely when their energy could be put to so much good use.
In a way, I think a better way to use energy in trying to improve the entire educational system is from within. I deem this the Galen Erso model of reform. Erso knew the death star was being created, and instead of fighting the creation and wasting energy he decided to work from the inside to create a way to stop the death star.
I fully admit this analogy is not a 100% fit, but I think it proves a point. Educational reformers can take their ideas and try to improve the system from the inside out. Typically, this type of change is more successful than a complete scrap and restart.
I agree that our educational system, the one I am a part of, needs to have great change in order to help young people become successful adults. I do not believe at all that a complete scrap is the way. We need to be inside agents in the traditional model making changes that impact students. Truth be told, most students will not have an opportunity to be in a school that has been scrapped and redesigned from the ground up. Most students will be in a situation to be at a traditional model, and those schools can be changed from the inside.
I can honestly say I have seen amazing success at my site, which is a traditional public school. It is a direct result of amazing people deciding to be change makers from the inside out. I have seen amazing changes at many schools in the Northern California area, it ALWAYS starts with people making a decision to make small changes with what they are doing. It then becomes making small changes within the system they are in, which leads to bigger systematic changes, which leads to amazing student success.
I may be wrong here, but I wish the people spending time and energy complaining about the traditional system, wanting to spend resources destroying it, would spend their efforts improving the system where they are at.
Amazing things would happen!