So many articles on are being published today on what’s wrong with our educational system. References are made to common core, standardized testing and classrooms that were designed when the factory was the identified workplace as culprits. Administration is built on a military model of top-down direction, leadership and supervision, because the military is where most male managers learned about discipline and management. The promise of today’s technology and its innovations are being stifled because they’re the proverbial square pegs trying to be fit into the round holes of an existent construct. Material to be learned is simply repurposed, and while flipped classrooms, blended learning and other strategies for new educational environments are being utilized, A, B, C, D, F are still the way students are evaluated.
So let’s go back to the phrase, “Educational System.” Perhaps nothing is wrong with the educational aspect of it. Perhaps the problem is the second word of the phrase: system. Education knows “process;” it doesn’t know “system.”
Other industries have experienced revolutions. The most recent is the transportation industry. All of a sudden, through the magic of technology, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft threaten taxicabs and shuttle services. If education isn’t careful, it will soon find itself wondering, “What happened?” when the system, rather than the process, changes.
The interesting thing is that teachers are starting to recognize this, and those who can’t find jobs in the public school systems are actually starting their own schools. Why? They can. Curricular resources are available online. Educational Standards are published on the Internet. Teachers who know one another can put together a company just like the fabled Silicon Valley startups that gave us Apple, Salesforce and LinkedIn.
So teachers, when you go to your administrators with great ideas, realize this: administrators may understand, but they may not care! They will tell you to do your job.
Those three words are important – understand, care and do. They’re congruent with the cognitive, affective, and kinesthetic learning domains. What’s even more important to understand (!) is that understanding and doing are connected by caring. And that’s the crux of many of the issues experienced today in education, as well as in other business verticals.
Understanding is “head” knowledge, and teachers are great at that. Teachers become administrators, however, with very little exposure to management courses. Sure, there is academic leadership curriculum that is part of a certification, but consider four years of undergraduate courses, student teaching experiences, observations, and induction programs for new teachers…even if they’ve been employed elsewhere for a number of years, and then change school districts. Just a few more courses and observations and along with a few years of experience and the teacher could be qualified to be a principal.
That was great when the principal was the “principal teacher.” But now, there’s a good chance that the principal will be the chief administrator of the school…and so many principals today long to be back into the classroom because that’s where their heart is – rather than in all those “ations” – such as benefits administration, union negotiation, and budget preparation – that is at the heart of management.
Doing is self-explanatory. It’s the day-in, day-out necessary demands of the job. But, just like any other job today, just doing your job is usually not acceptable. Customers expect employees to go “above and beyond” not just on certain occasions, but all … the … time! Even if you’re tired from working all night to get a project finished, and get minimal sleep, or just have a restless night, you need to “buck up” and become energetic and enthusiastic because that’s what’s expected. No wonder 5-hour energy shots and extreme espresso coffees are so popular today!
But caring is heart knowledge. It’s actually gut knowledge, since when someone is “heartsick,” they actually feel it in their stomach. Unfortunately, you can’t tell someone, “I love you with all my stomach,” or “My gut misses you.” However, when you get a weird feeling about something, you know where you get that feeling. It’s your gut instincts, and sometimes, they lead to a gut reaction.
Caring is never articulated in a job description. And, thanks to some leaders, teachers, and other trusted members of the population that should have known better, caring of any incarnation has been eliminated from every classroom situation, no matter what type of school it is – public, faith-based, or private. As for cyberschools, the pat on the back, the handshake, the high five and the fist bump are completely gone.
There used to be a time when children would hug their teachers. No more. Theodore Roosevelt has been credited with coining the truism, “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Some Internet sources have said this is especially true in education. Movies, like “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” “Stand and Deliver,” and “October Sky” celebrate teachers who truly care about their students, and inspire those who think like Christa McAuliffe, the teacher who lost her life when the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986. Her words, “I touch the future. I teach,” still ring true in the hearts and minds of teachers today.
Today, unfortunately, the message to teachers is a little different one. Don’t expect your school leader to care about you and your ideas, especially if there’s someone eager to take your place.