Jul 10, 2012

ARTICLE: Fancy and Whim

Transforming Education

An attorney gives her take on changing the education system. One of the weaknesses of our system stems from a distant, centralized authority, who make choices and pass down decisions, bouncing from fad to fad, paying for unproven tests, and writing policies based on fancy and whim.

"Attorneys attend years of college and law school to develop specialized legal skills and knowledge and yet the legal profession explicitly acknowledges that decisions regarding the purposes of representation (as well as some particular decisions such as whether to settle a matter) are reserved to the client and not the professional."

"What if students had the authority to terminate the teacher-student relationship over unresolved disagreements about the instructional methods, materials, and other school policies?  Would it change the way teachers and schools communicate with parents and students about instructional and policy choices?  Would we still see fifteen minute lunches and decreasing time for recess?  Would we still see widespread implementation of PBIS?  Would educational leadership still be talking about more time in school?  Would we see more discussion about and variety in educational philosophy and choice of instructional methods and materials?"

"If teachers could meaningfully exercise independent professional judgment on behalf of their students, what would schools look like?  Would there be fewer politically or corporate-driven fads in the classroom?  What are the institutional implications for protecting the exercise of independent professional judgment by teachers?   At the very least, it would seem to require much less centralized control of curricular and instructional decisions."

If you've read my stuff long enough, you know I admire Finland's education system. Yeah, yeah, find all of the differences between the United States and Finland that you want--it only keeps us from taking reasonable, proven, and necessary steps toward improving our schools. Granting autonomy to experienced and educated teachers will make a difference.

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