Thursday, March 7, 2019

Improving Education

The Real Question  -  In our opinion, there is no greater priority for our nation's future strength and success than improving the education we provide to our children.  Just as improving the way employees work, decide, collaborate, and communicate greatly improves a company's ability to compete, improving the quality and quantity of our children's education gives the future generations an important readiness when competing in a global economy. 

The real question isn't if we should improve public education or not.  Nor is it asking about what should change.  The real question is, "How will we create consensus and collaboration that drives us into the results we know are needed?"  Too often the story is about factions wanting to derail the improvements so they can have some control.  This is an extremely detrimental and short-sighted approach to improving something so large and important.

The "What" Question is Easy  -  As more and more people become connected and engage in the dialogue of hope, changes, and ideas we see many themes beginning to emerge that incorporate most ideas and leave room for others.  There are core "macro" concepts that will lead much of the thinking, and there are detailed "micro" concepts that will drive the process toward tangible results.

The macro issues are things like managing teacher attrition, student assessments, technology integration and implementation, accountability, and other large challenge areas.  The micro concepts follow the macros, finding relevance, acceptance, and significance in relational context to the macro needs. 

As the discussions grow and generate more involvement the phenomena of cultural change takes over.  Soon we see a hundred ideas become a thousand ideas and trends become statistically significant.  When five people see the advantages of using technology to teach rote curricila as a means of freeing teachers to do more individual instruction, it doesn't become a trend.  But, when two hundred people see it, the whisper becomes a chorus and people become encouraged and emboldened. 

We are now beginning to see stronger and stronger macro trends and micro solutions are finding appropriate grounds to take root in.  The more they can remain rooted in the context of their relevance to macro areas of need, the more these micro concepts can one day bear fruit that will affirm their value as examples of what can and should be done to improve schools.

The "How" and "Who" Questions are more difficult to answer - We are the product of a flawed system  We were all taught that what's in the proverbial box is what's most important.  The teacher or boss points at the box and says, "Enter in and become of what's in there."  We are told to absorb what somebody else believes is important, and if we cannot recite their thinking to their liking - we are called wrong. 

Our leaders show us other ways to go because they looked inside the box and determined there had to be something more.  So, they dared to look outside the box.  They became explorers and pioneers.  They also became threats to the masses who bought into the idea that the box is right. 

Copernicus, Galileo, William Wilberforce, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, JR. and many others who refused the comfort of the status quo, led civilization forward by rejecting the notion that the box contained everything.  As we look upon the status quo of our educational system one cannot help but wonder what else is possible, what exists outside the box of established practices and how might we build consensus. 

The "how" will include a revolutionary insurrection as innovators educate others and the very unsatisfied listen and learn with open minds.  Bit-by-bit new standards will emerge and new ways of knowledge transfer will draw learners forward instead of herding them from behind.  The "how" will include the "who" who take a risk and advocate for something outside the box, for the sake of moving us all forward, for the sake of our children, for the sake of our nation.