I was happy and honored to get many responses via Twitter and on this blog about my two-part comments on the Common Core Standards. Here are some thoughtful conversations in my reading of the last few days. These are not talking-head pundits; they are all educators just like you. Is your school or district creating opportunities for questions and concerns like these to come forward? Or is inertia just too strong?
I am more and more convinced that a single “C” – CONTROL – may prove the bedrock for the development of all those other “Cs.” For in the giving of control, I believe we provide student learners with more opportunities to practice the skills organically and authentically than if we assign them work organized into the seven “Cs.” Through the autonomy of control – motivated by the control of choice – we naturally invest ourselves in those seven “Cs.” When we feel in control, we learn to take control, and we develop our capacities to maintain good control.
I believe that what holds teachers back from making learning a three-dimensional reality is the constraint of two-dimensional assessment. Either we need to move beyond our national obsession with this type of assessment that can provide us talking point data at press conferences, or we need to engage in some design thinking about how to develop assessments that judge engagement. Even a good farmer knows you don’t fatten your sheep by measuring them. You fatten them by providing them something appetizing.
Student control in education is not a new concept and wide swaths of evidence exist in favor of designs and methods that allow learners to explore learning on their terms and be accountable to themselves and others in the process. Theorists and educators like John Dewey and Francis Parker in the 19th and early 20th century to those of today like Heidi Hayes-Jacobs, James Beane, and Grant Lichtman, extol the potential and success of programs that give students control.
I almost feel sad, deflated and lost after reading this (post). However, I feel hope rise back up again when I read this (I love it) and I am thankful that you mentioned it because it exemplifies Norman Vincent Peale’s wise words: “Every problem has in it the seeds to its own resolution. If you don’t have any problems, you don’t have any seeds”.
How might we explore hybrid models, partnerships that allow us to get messy, creative and experimental together? How might we blur the lines of private and public? Let us embrace a new way of thinking where we are not victims of a system, or simply witnesses, where we help one another reclaim the responsibility and power of our craft. A place where our passion and purpose merge in response to the challenge in ways that empower all of us to make positive changes personally and professionally.
What we all must recognize and address is that the new paradigm is messier, will take more time, and will look very different than what we have seen before. This means that we must be ready for critique and complaints that our conversations are not helpful because they do not provide the “results” we are used to seeing. The more collaboration we do, the more questions we ask, and the more problems we seek to find– the better off our lift to the jet stream will be.