Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Human nature - why sometimes we should fight to ignore it...

I will preface this post by saying I am only 15 pages into the book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, by Diane Ravitch.  Despite not being too far along in this book, I feel empowered to share my experiences thus far.

In my short 5 years in education I have learned many things, however for this post I will concentrate on just one.  There is one thing for certain in education...and that is, there is nothing certain in education.  The education system in America has been going through, and will continue to go through a process of change.  Ironically enough, this process of change is continuing to change and evolve.  What we started with just a mere 5 years ago, is now something completely different.  If you talk to an educator who has 30 years of experience in education, you would be amazed to hear all of the different trends and changes that have taken place over the last 30 years.  Unfortunately, for better or worst, many of these trends and changes have changed, stayed way too long, or completely died.  How can such an important piece to our democratic society be in such a constant state of turmoil?  There is one thing to blame...human nature.

As humans, we are wired to adapt and change.  Throughout the existence of mankind we have evolved and transformed our way of life, and because of our ability to adapt and evolve we have not just survived, but we have thrived.  As with many strengths, there is also a downside.  Specifically with education, we are constantly looking to change and transform the educational process for the better.  Because of human nature we tend to jump on board with any idea or proposal that claims to solve all of our educational problems.  Human nature is jumping on the train before asking if it is the right train, or checking to see where the train is going.

By no means am I advocating we ignore change and educational reform, but rather I would advocate taking a step back and really evaluating new ideas and measures before implementing them.  I think we should use the quality over quantity approach when addressing educational issues and ways to improve.  We should use caution and ask as many questions as possible before using classrooms and students as guinea pigs.  We should take risks, but take calculated risks that have really weighed the potential benefits and costs of such measures.  I am 100% for innovation, creativity, transformation, and any other type of progressive change that can improve our education system.  If we have analyzed all the available data and information while considering and including all stakeholders, we will be doing what is in the best interests of the students.

"If we're growing, we're always going to be out of our comfort zone"         

John Maxwell