There is considerable finger pointing in our world today. We’ve replaced responsibility with accountability. Too often, society is quick to blame somebody or something else for their own woes. This really struck a chord a couple of weeks ago when I was involved in a Twitter chat that blamed everything beyond themselves. Even trying to add a different perspective led to more insults and eventually I left the conversation because there wasn’t going to be anything positive forthcoming.
Unfortunately, education has also become part of that same culture. The “blame game” is alive and well throughout education! The supposed cures for education seem to be entrenched with the language of, “If only” If only we had more money, more time, smaller classes, less testing, more educational assistants, more resources, etc. There seems to be this belief that with “X”, we would be so much better off. And while I would never say no to any of the above, more of the above will most likely only lead to better sameness and not significant change in our educational system.
Our education system really needs to be transformed. The initial purpose of education was never intended to have the student as the central focus. And although we often use the language that we are student centred there are only “some” times when that is actually the case. Even though we have solid research backing improved pedagogy, assessment and structure we still want to continue as we always have.
So where lies the enemy? Quite simply, it lies within each of us, not them but us. We are part of a society that prefers blame to responsibility. We prefer excuses to solutions and we too quickly see barriers instead of opportunities. It is far easier to look beyond rather than within and to call the system a failure before we call ourselves to task. Sad but this culture exists from leader to teacher and from parent to student.
Yet, I’ve been blessed to be around teachers who have made great changes and significant impacts in the lives of students throughout their careers. Why? What’s the difference? Simple, they say “I can and I will!!” They expect and more importantly they accept that conditions may not be optimal but they always move forward. When you walk in their rooms you wish you were a student again and if you are a parent you hope your child gets the opportunity to be in their class. They exude passion and compassion! They believe in their students and set high expectations for all without any excuses.
If we truly desire to make education relevant to the students of today we need to recognize the enemy within each of us and dispel it. No more excuses! No more “If only, What if, But, or I can’t! Then, and only then, will we begin to transform ourselves and then truly reform the system.