Teachers have never been more necessary for young people, for we are moving into a time when the primacy of content delivery is waning, and the role of teaching skills, such as collaboration and synthesizing disparate pieces of data are ascending.
I work with leaders and faculty members at independent schools to help them frame out a process for change… I am most interested in the means–a smarter process to hold the ambition of complex schools striving to make impactful change.
Today I am making a pledge to abandon that metaphor (“Abandon Ship!”) as it seems to give us a ready-made excuse for slowing down, or giving up on, priorities we have named as being mission-driven and strategic. The metaphor slows us down because it traps our thinking—it becomes an accurate metaphor because we have chosen to believe it. From now on schools are not big ships. Schools are challenging enough without having them have to be ships as well.
It may be helpful to think of it this way: imagine that every school has a ledger that marks the long-term debt of bad habit against the revenue of tradition. My fear is that an audit of that ledger in many of our institutions might reveal that bad habits are costing us more than we choose to recognize.
I began to wonder to what extent are school leaders like the highway engineers that Bryson lampoons. It was not a comfortable wondering.
My answer: perhaps we are more like highway engineers than we would like to admit. Maybe we in fact ARE highway engineers.
Without ENGAGEMENT, classroom experiences are empty calories, a virtual skimming across the surface of learning. Most dangerously, such experiences can become cynical exercises in jumping through hoops for academic rewards.