Education Lists Need Solutions
While a lot of education voices lament the sad state of education, most don’t offer any realistic solutions. It’s tiring to see a list of reasons education doesn’t work, without a hint of what might work, too. Is it possible for more to be offered to possibly relieve education issues, beyond negatively, or positively fuzzy lists, similar to some seen, most days, in fleeting Twitter feeds? I always look for the authors of these, not because I care that they are known, as a matter of fact, I want to hear more from those who are unknown—as of yet. Rather, I tend to look to see if the authors walk the fine line between affiliations to causes, and their own personal common sense ideas for education change. Do they continue to say things that really need to be said?
Many of these simple, education lists, which offer very little, get a lot of undeserved attention. Shaking a bees’ nest usually riles up the bees. The bees seem to forget what they should be doing. They swarm wildly in defense, hoping to hit something. I almost always have questions for each of the things written in list-style posts, and also many questions for the author, if examples aren’t given with those list items. I want to know what the author suggests to share, or improve in the things listed, and possibly learn whatever it is that is better. I expect the author to know more and explain more.
Sometimes authors write about not personally getting a better shake at school. Those times, and reminiscing the past, while they are certainly a reason for doing things in education, don’t always help the future of education. Let me go on to say that even the positive lists, and even the one-liners, said by so many in posts and on social media, including those by famous Edu Rockstars like Sir Ken Robinson can fall into the category of offering too little. As beautiful as one-liner can be, they, too, always have me questioning, “What realistic and concrete solution can you have to offer? Can you give me examples?” We need to get beyond the moment of shock, or awesome greeting card lines, to the concrete action statements with examples of what to do. That takes sharing more than lists; it takes offering realistic solutions.
I’m wondering if there should be a prerequisite for education authors and speakers, and Edu Rockstars, too. Should each post, negative or fluffy statement, be required to have a paragraph to suggest a possible change, or at least share an example of something that could happen, or that is happening now, that could possibly help to empower change? Unfortunately, most times the lists are left as only easy surface statements. It would be far better if more could be added beyond the spark of a powerful solution seed.
To list things, and protest the sad state of education, is only helping to keep the status quo intact that created the problem, or negative thoughts in the first place. And to post fluffy feel good thoughts, without more actionable meaning and direction isn’t that much better. The former may make us angry, and the latter may make us happy, but we need more than angry and sad at this time. We should demand more, especially when we’re talking about the fleeting moments students spend learning. Kids don’t have the time, to wait for negative or fluffy-positive statements to move us out of our inactivity—and beyond talk to true action.
Lists without solutions, or examples, are troubling, because they are just too easy, and I’m sad that they get more attention than they deserve. I’m upset, too, that they keep education backward and last century. I’m angry that we continue to keep kids waiting until they either graduate, or in many cases walk away far too early. We ask students to not only state the problem, but to show what they would do to make it better, along with statements backed up with examples. We should ask the same of our education experts, authors, presenters, and school leaders. If we know the problems, then we can start with answering two questions: What’s the plan? What needs to be done to get there?
About the Author:
Ken Royal is an educator with 34 years of classroom/school and instructional technology teaching experience, as well as a blogger on all things education and education technology. Teaching accomplishments include: 4-time district teacher of the year, Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates award for Technology School of Excellence. He is a Promethean storyteller. Follow @KenRoyal on Twitter.