Embrace Change If You Want Something Better

This morning I retweeted and responded to three people whom I follow and respect who were independently talking about the same thing: changing what we do to get better results.

It began with Jimmy Casas @casas_jimmy who tweeted:

“Thought for the day: We need to stop saying educators hate change. Not true for most. They hate not having support, resources, & most importantly, time! Provide these three things & you’ll see most will embrace it. #culture”

My comment in my retweet was:

“They’re scarce because the current #educationprocess isn’t set up to provide them. Why not embrace #CHANGE to a model created [specifically] to give support, resources, & time for teachers and kids. These precious commodities don’t fall from the sky. We must reach for them.”

Within seconds, a tweet popped up on my screen from Bruce Van Horn @BruceVH who posted a great Meme saying:

“You must be willing to do something you have never done before to get to where you have never been before.”

And, again, seconds later, another tweet appeared, by Burton Brown, Sr. @BurtonBrown:

“Be Brave! Take off your clothes and put on some new ones. @DonnaReiners #quote”

The first thing that “popped” into my mind was my favorite motivational speaker of all time, Zig Ziglar, who once said:

“If you keep doin’ what you’ve been doin’ you’ll keep gettin’ what you’ve been gettin’!”

The most important issue on the American agenda is public education and the achievement gap between black students and their white classmates is the civil rights issue of our time, as is the achievement gap between white children and other disadvantaged students, many of whom are also minorities.

These children are failing by the millions and, contrary to the claims of education reformers, they are failing in spite of the heroic efforts of public school teachers.

Why is it so hard to recognize that we must change and put an end to a flawed education process that has produced multiple generations of American men and women who have always failed in school and have always been poor. These Americans produce whole new generations of children and send them off to school with little, if any, expectations that an education will provide a way out of the cycle of poverty and failure. These Americans have no reason to believe that the school experiences of their children will be any different than their own. For so many of these men and women, the American dream is a false promise; an illusion. It is the civil rights movement, unrealized.

Make no mistake, the burden of supporting this population of the poor and dependent, and especially black Americans, is the basis of the ever-deepening bitterness of millions of other Americans who resent having to support them. This generation’s-old pattern, they believe, justifies their prejudices and bigotry and, as much as anything else in American society, explains why so many people are so upset with life in America that they elected Donald Trump to be President of the United States.

Yes, I know how incredibly difficult it must be for the teachers in our most challenged public schools to stand up and proclaim that what they are being asked to do does not work when they know they are being blamed for the failures. We must move past talking about blame and begin talking about who will accept responsibility for change. If we wait for others do it for us, we may wait forever.

I also understand why so many teachers who teach in higher-performing schools feel the need to defend themselves against the attacks by reformers and resist their focus on “choice,” charter schools and vouchers.

Deep down in their hearts, many public school teachers know there is something horribly wrong when outcomes never seem to change no matter how hard they work or how many new ideas, methodologies and approaches they are asked to try. They also know that “choice,” charter schools, and vouchers are not the answer just as they know prejudices and bigotry are not the answer to our nation’s future.

If teachers and advocates for public education would only step back a few steps and look at the education process as an integral whole, they would see that it is a process that has grown obsolete. It is a process that not only fails to support teachers and students as they go about their important work, it impedes their efforts; it forces them to overcome one obstacle after another.

As has been so eloquently pointed out by Bruce Van Horn, Burton Brown, Sr., and Donna Reiner, the answer to your question, Jimmy Casas, is that the only way we can give teachers and students, especially disadvantaged students, the “support, resources, & most importantly, time” is to change the way we teach.

Michael J. Fox posted a meme some time ago, to which I have referred, often, and which many of you have communicated in your own words:

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”

Please, please, please take the time to read my Education Model and accompanying white paper at https://melhawkinsandassociates.com/education-model-white-paper/

Teachers say all the time that “kids are more than test scores” and that an education must be more than teaching to a test; that we must teach creative thinking. The first and most important aspect of creative thinking or “thinking outside the box,” which I prefer to call “exponential thinking,” is to force ourselves to step back, far enough, that we can examine a system or process as an integral whole, challenge our fundamental assumptions about what we do and why, and begin to think about other ways we could go about doing whatever it is that we do. So that we are not just teaching to a test and can show that our kids are more than test scores.

I am not so arrogant that I believe that my education model is the only way we can change public education, no matter how confident I may be, but I do believe it will help educators undergo a paradigm shift and see the education process—the logical process through which we deliver a service to our nation’s children—in a new light. It will show you one way we could begin to do things differently and end the failure of so many of our nation’s precious children. If nothing, else, it should provide a catalyst that will #ignite your own imagination.

I also challenge black Americans and other minorities, and their advocates, to seize this opportunity to bring MLK Jr’s dream to life and make it part of a real American dream.

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