Are You An “Inny”? Or An “Outty”?

I’ve been thinking some more about this question of if we should establish clear standards in schools for Web 2.0 teaching or let teachers learn on their own, in a much less structured way via their own Personal Learning Communities.

So, I do a little more reading.  It seems my question is c

ouched in a larger conversation that lots of people have been commenting on.  Can we fix what is broken about our current schools from within, or is it better to think of a whole new paradigm and start afresh?

Here are some takes on the issue that I’ve read and would like to share. The posts, and the comments that follow them go into great depth.  More than I can try to summarize here. If you’re interested in this conversation its worth it to read them through.

Chris Lehmann:  What Is Public Education?  This was Chris’ reaction to…

Will Richardson’s: Some New Years’ Dreaming   and…

Clay Burrell’s:  On Leaving Teaching to Become a Teacher

I also came across Dina Strasser’s  In or Out? (Long Philosophical Ramble #1) 

(Dina, I started a draft of this post before I saw your title.  Great minds?)

What I’ve taken from these comments is that, I’m an “inny”.  

I subscribe to a lot of Chris Lehmann’s sentiments.  I’m not ready to abandon the system we have now.  I’d rather work from within to make it better.  Let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water.  It’s also easy to say “let’s work within the system” for someone who is blessed to work in a public school district that is working very well…but is striving always to improve.

I particularly liked when Chris said to Will and Clay,  “We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”  Reminds me of a Sting lyric…”To search for perfection is all very well, but to look for heaven is to live here in hell.” 

I’m not suggesting that by establishing standards and clearly stating expectations that I’m endorsing an authoritarian “one size fits all” type system that will crush creativity.  I’d bet a company like Pixar expects–even demands–creativity,  imagination, and ingenuity from all its employees.  Does setting an expectation necessarily mean killing creative thinking? 

Is it impossible to imbibe our current schools with thinking modeled by Will and Clay on a wide scale?  Is it too much to expect such thinking?  Are our schools so restrictive that the ideas of “standards and universal expectations” and “individuality and passion” are diametrically opposed to one another?

Looking for some focus.


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