On one side I see smart, well-intentioned people continuing to discuss school reform strategies via the illusory lens of achievement, and refusing to acknowledge the ways in which that word has come less and less to reflect any fully conceptualized reflection of the real thing we seek – learning. At the same time, other colleagues seem convinced that any outside influence is nefarious, that all charter schools are unwanted, and that Arne Duncan is the antichrist.
These are not just straw men – they are, as Carver suggested, the things we talk about when we are unsure of what to actually talk about. They are what we cling to when we are unsure of what to do next. And they are massive obstacles standing between us and a new way of seeing public education – and making it better, more accessible and more equitable for succeeding generations of Americans.
What if we heeded the wisdom of Carver’s stories and acknowledged we’re struggling to talk about what we really need to talk about because no one wants to admit we’re not really sure how to get there from here? Would doing so help us start to address not just the concrete, visible aspects of school (academic growth, prescriptive policies, structural reforms) but also the intangible, invisible aspects of schooling (emotional growth, holistic practices, appreciative inquiry)? Would such a change even make a difference?
What We Talk About When We Talk About School Reform by Sam Chaltain, Huffington Post: Education