This quote from Robert Krulwich of NPR caught my eye yesterday:
But there are some people, who don’t wait.
I don’t know exactly what going on inside them; but they have this… hunger. It’s almost like an ache.
Something inside you says I can’t wait to be asked I just have to jump in and do it.
He was talking about beginning journalists, but I couldn’t help thinking about the many teachers who I have met over the years who haven’t waited. People like Shelley Blake-Plock and Dolores Gende and Anne Smith and Kathy Cassidy and Brian Crosby and Shannon Miller and Shelley Wright and Jabiz Raisdana and a whole slew of others who had some type of hunger overcome them, something that made them jump right in and really change the way the thought about teaching and learning and classrooms. For some, I know, what’s happened over the past decade or so has simply afforded a way for them to do more of what they always believed, to give kids the reins and let them learn about learning. But for others, and I would count myself in this second category, the last 10 years have brought to life a way of thinking about education that is decidedly different from the lens we originally carried into the classroom. For us, this has been a real transformation, not simply a shift in methods or pedagogy.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of teachers are still waiting…for something. What is it? Permission? Direction? Inspiration? Enlightenment?
I know this is a crappy time to be in education. Maybe as crappy as it’s ever been. Thousands of people are losing their jobs, their benefits. The profession is being dragged through the manure. The onslaught of tests and data collection and standardization is doing the same thing to teachers as it’s doing to kids, driving the creativity and the passion and the enjoyment of real learning right out of them. I am not unsympathetic to these realities…not at all.
But we can’t use this moment as an excuse to continue to wait. Technology aside, our educational systems are not creating the learners that we want our children to be. And it’s not about layering whiteboards or blogs onto a narrow, one-size fits all curriculum that has marched along undeterred for what seems like forever. It’s about fundamentally changing what we do in classrooms with kids.
The good news is that many have acted on their hunger. They’ve put kids ahead of the system, redefined themselves as learners first, teachers second, found the courage of their convictions and made learning, not test scores, the focus. The bad news is that far too many teachers still don’t even know that the traditional model of education is failing kids when it comes to learning. But somewhere in the middle, there are those that know there is a different path, yet they won’t make the leap.
What, I wonder, are they waiting for?