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Education Opinion

The Larger, Smaller Conversation

By LeaderTalk Contributor — June 15, 2009 2 min read

I had a whole post ready for my “official” LeaderTalk day last Friday but in the end I just couldn’t bring myself to click “Publish.” I was a little frustrated when I wrote it and I think it needs to simmer for a bit before it’s ready for prime time.

Fast-forward to this morning and a great keynote from Karl Fisch about literacy in the 21st century. Karl said a lot of great things and challenged the thinking of a lot of people in the room. This led to some great conversations throughout the morning and throughout the day.

But Karl’s talk got me thinking about my “unpublished” post. I’ve been spinning a lot of half-formed thoughts around in my head all morning and this is my attempt at putting them together in some quasi-cohesive form.

Most of us reading LeaderTalk and publishing our blogs are basically in agreement that school, in its current iteration, leaves something to be desired in terms of its ability to meet the individual needs of students in a way that doesn’t look like an assembly line. Though the methods proposed to address this deficiency vary from blog to blog and person to person, there isn’t a lot of disagreement that something needs to change.

The question I’m left with, then, is that with all of this ideology around how things should look, and all these great conversations “out there,” how do we carry these conversations back to our schools? If we (the schools) are supposed to “be the change [we] want to see in the world,” then how do we start talking about this change at the micro level in one school?

More pointedly, how do we have a real discussion about these real ideas that doesn’t somehow degenerate into (a) “If the school/district would buy me a projector/computer/document camera, then I could do this stuff,” or (b) “Let’s talk about tardy policies and consequences for cell phone use...”?

Is this the majority of teachers? Probably not. Are these equipment and policy issues important? Sure. Are they the most important? Not to me.

Nonetheless, I would love to get beyond them in a way that doesn’t sound like I’m minimizing the concerns of the teachers for whom these are the Big Issues Of The School.

My struggle right now is trying to frame these big ideas in a simple, straightforward way that is accessible to everyone and doesn’t alienate any particular group of teachers. On the other hand, part of me feels like waiting around for buy-in from everyone means we’re wasting a lot of time when we could be moving ahead.

I guess don’t have a lot of answers, but I sure have a lot of questions.

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Scott Elias
http://scottjelias.net

The opinions expressed in LeaderTalk are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.