Saturday, January 24, 2015

What if I'm doing #education all wrong?

I read an article recently that really got me thinking about my approach and beliefs toward education.

I consider myself to be rather confident and strong in my resolve when it comes to what I believe is best for kids, but this article just resurfaced some thoughts that have been circulating for quite some time.

The article is titled 'Why Tough Teachers Get Good Results' and was published in Sept. of 2013.

The article shares the story of Mr. K, a beloved music instructor who passed away a few years ago. Mr. K's impact on his students was celebrated and remembered as former students flew from all over the world to attend his funeral and pay their respects.

Then, the article takes an approach that I really appreciated. Instead of focusing on what we as educators are doing wrong, it instead focuses on what Mr. K did right to positively affect so many of his students and prepare them to lead successful lives.

But, here are the types of lines in the article where I began to struggle...

'Mr. K basically tortured us through adolescence.'

'It's time to revisit old-fashioned education.'

'Strict discipline, unyielding demands...'

And entire paragraphs like this:

Here's the deal... as I read the article, I found myself disagreeing with many of the points the author was making about Mr. K's proven and time-tested strategies to successfully impact student learning.

Many of the so-called time-tested and proven strategies being praised in this article fly in the face of change I've been working for my entire education career.

I've advocated for and passionately shared with any who will listen my beliefs on increasing empathy and understanding in our schools.

I've carried the flag on dismantling any belief that 'drill and kill' is the way to student success and that simple rote memorization of facts is merely preparing our kids for a world that no longer exists.

I've pushed for sweeping change in regard to the old-fashioned way of education in lieu of a more nimble and progressive approach to student learning based on the demands of a 21st century society.

I blog about and tweets things that probably make Mr. K roll over in his grave.

But, what if Mr. K was right in his approach?

What if what I've committed myself to is only making things worse?

What if my solutions to improve and positively affect education are actually working against what is best for kids?

What if I'm doing #education all wrong...?