Many in the edublogger community are in a funk
this summer. The enumerated reasons vary, but for many, it seems to have to do with trying to change the world and then watching it pretty much stay the same.
, I personally am left with a strong sense of “preaching to the choir.” The vast majority of people who go to ed tech conferences believe that technology combined with nontraditional pedagogy has the power to transform education. We see how project-based learning can engage students. We know how writing for a real purpose and a real audience can turn reluctant learners into brilliant authors. We believe that the real world interactions are the way to develop 21st Century skills that our kids need to succeed in the world.
Each year, we gather at various places across the country to talk to each other about this, and sometimes those conversations are energizing. Other times, they fall flat, and we wonder what difference this is all making in educating our students.
Perhaps we are talking to the wrong people. Instead of talking to other proponents of these methods, perhaps we should be talking to people who don’t espouse our views: the teachers who don’t have or want computers in their rooms, principals who don’t embrace technology or don’t think curriculum is “their thing,” district staff members in the curriculum and assessment departments, federal and state department of education staff members, and legislatures. These are the people who need to get the message that there are different ways to do things in the classroom that may benefit more of our students.
The educational-industrial complex is a huge, well-entrenched, and slow-moving beast. For the last several years, this bureaucracy has focused its attention on assessment. For even more years, textbooks have been the central instructional tool.
An opportunity for real change may be in the wind though. At the federal level, a new administration will be coming on board next year and with it will come the reauthorization of the ESEA and the reconsideration of NCLB. At the grass roots level, most teachers are convinced that the focus on AYP and assessment has done more harm than good.
As the opportunity for change grows, what are the best ways to move this education establishment toward more openness, more creativity, and more genuine learning in our classrooms?
Here are some ideas to consider and discuss:
* Preach to someone other than the choir. Reallocate time from the normal ed tech conferences to more curriculum-oriented gatherings.
* Work with leadership. If the leadership doesn’t get it, it isn’t likely to happen on a broad scale.
* Be bold. Throw out the textbooks. Reject pacing plans. Engage students. Have high expectations.
* Think of creative ways to make this a reality. Money is often given as an excuse for why change doesn’t happen, but lack of commitment or conviction is more often the obstacle.
Do these ideas make sense? What other ways can we as a community get out of our funk and bring about more substantive change in education?
And as I'm putting together my own conference schedule for the next year, what curriculum shows do you think would be the most important to attend and present at?