Understanding follows invention

I’ve been thinking about how following ‘research based best practices’ can only look backwards. It takes years for an idea to spread, be implemented, measured, and finally have research published about it. Worse, we largely use blunt standardized testing to try to measure the results of each practice, without any understanding of the harm that the test itself is bringing to the system. Teachers have too much to teach, no time to reteach, and have to cut anything fun to keep the fast pace. The harm of testing is incalculable. But that is for another day.

Education needs to be reimagined to its core, and that can’t be researched in the context of a normal school. You can have all the best practices of a classroom from the 1990s, but 30 years of technology have changed everything. What is possible with technology is unknown and we have no plan to find out.

It makes me remember the book (I forgot which) that explained how so many fundamental inventions through time seemed to defy science or conventional thinking. Understanding would follow the invention.

This is important to remember – the people who are the closest to the reality of the situation are the ones who are in the best position to understand and invent. I know what works in the classroom because I have to. MIddle school isn’t for the faint of heart; any shortcut today can cost me dearly tomorrow.

The pace at which we (teachers) can discover what works in the classroom is just unparalleled. Sometimes I will have an idea, implement it later that day, and know how to adjust everything by that night. It’s awesome when I can manage it. Too bad most teachers are in survival mode, flirting with burnout. Another incalculable harm.

No matter what, someone needs to show what is possible in the classroom. Elected leaders have ideas about education that are decades old. Education leaders have their hands tied – up, down, and sideways. The vision for what is possible in a classroom has to come from a classroom with real students and real results.

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