31 Mar What if . . .
My great dream is that this economic downturn (since we’re in it anyway) will prove to be a transformative agent for our nation’s schools (remember, Lance Armstrong’s transformation was partly due to how the lean times as he fought to survive made him a more agile athlete). However, I think such a fantasy might be labeled “overly optimistic” at best and “hopelessly Pollyannic” in reality.
But, as long as I dreaming, I might as well serve up a whole buffet of “what if’s” to feast my report-card-writing-procrastination on.
What if . . .
- we use these broke times to brainstorm an education system we’d create if we could start over?
- we took advantage of the leanness to get back to the heart of what’s most important?
- education policy makers had to spend a month substituting in a low SES school and subsisting on teacher pay during that month?
- people didn’t say “Oh, you’re a teacher, I have so much respect for you,” to my face and then turn around and blame what they perceive to be the failure of schools on teachers?
- we valued student engagement and curiosity as much as we valued their ability to fill in bubble sheets?
- teachers were paid like professional athletes? That would be cool. Fiscally irresponsible, sure, but cool. Think of how many people would flock to the field. We’d have the pick of the litter.
- the teaching profession were so revered and held to such high esteem that most of the teaching candidates came from the top 1/3 of college students rather than the bottom 1/3?
- schools had the autonomy and trust of the district, state, and national policy makers and public to make choices based on the needs of their unique populations?
- all schools were employed by people so capable that they could effectively earn and manage the autonomy and trust of the district, state, and national policy makers?
- all students came to school fed, loved, and feeling valued?
- textbooks weren’t ubiquitous?
- accountability measures could assess the foundations of what quality teachers do — build community through effective classroom management practices?
- all teachers could balance content and process?
- students graduated from school with relevant skills for today’s (and tomorrow’s) workforce?
- students wanted to go to school because it mattered to them?
- students felt their education to be relevant and valuable?
- policy makers asked for the opinions of educators when writing policy?
- schools reflected intentional design elements that lead to flexible space and collaboration?
- collaboration weren’t so tough?
- service learning were encouraged, supported, and a cornerstone of our school systems?
- all parents saw themselves as partners in their child’s (children’s) education?
- taxpayers didn’t baulk at the cost of schools (or at least not in the same breadth that they complain about our failing schools)?
- teachers didn’t feel burned out after just a few years?
- students learned critical thinking and problem solving skills by having to think critically and solve real problems?
- differentiation were the norm?
- multiple intelligences and multiple learning styles
- teachers were required to give students time to reflect on their activities and experiences in order to help students construct lasting knowledge.
- some of the curriculum each year was based on the questions and interests of an individual class?
- assessment actually led to more in-depth learning?
- I had spent this time working on report cards?
This is just the tip of the iceberg.
What are your “what-if’s”?