Recently, Justin Hamilton, @EdPressSec on Twitter, asked folks to state what they believe regarding education policy. No, that’s not quite right – what he actually said was this:
I believe that reading and writing are the foundations of education. I believe that they are complex tasks, best taught through the actual doing of them. I believe that too many teachers don’t spend time in their courses on reading and writing, because they believe those foundational concepts to be “someone else’s job.”
I believe in the power of breakfast, and that a child should never have to wonder where his or her next one is coming from. I believe that we could solve the problem of breakfast, if only we wanted to, and that’d take us a long way towards improving learning in our schools.
I believe that children are capable of handling complex tasks and content. I believe that we, too often, underestimate their intelligence. I also believe that we do so too often to protect ourselves from discomfort or messiness. I believe that’s harmful both to the children and to all of the rest of us.
I believe learning is, indeed, messy. And that we should leave no child behind. I believe we think too much about the lowest common denominator in thinking about the success of our programs. I believe people rise to the level of the expectations set for them. I believe we continually lower ourselves to meet the expectations of our politicians.
I believe that needs to change.
I believe that educators should be the best and brightest of our generation. I believe that the best and brightest of our generation too often see a way to escape the classroom, and that, to them, leaving seems better than staying. And they leave.
I believe we pretend to do this more often than we do.
I believe that reading is its own reward, and that programs that focus on bribes and trinkets are not good for children or for learning. I believe that tricking children to read by bribing them with tickets or toys or food cheapens the value of the reading and ultimately hurts more than it helps.
I believe that kindness and compassion always deserve a place in working with other human beings. This is true in our legislatures and our classrooms. Our social media spaces and our press conferences. The rhetoric of “stupid” and “hate” and anger and four letter words just isn’t helping.
I believe that people who have “the answer” to any large problem don’t actually understand the problem. Human problems are complex and require multiple avenues of solution. I believe that differentiation should exist both inside and outside the classroom.
I believe the classroom should be a place that is sometimes in the world and sometimes removed from it.
I believe we have too many missiles and not enough books for children. Or enough thoughtful adults to spend time with them.
I believe the environment for learning is far more important than the script for what takes place while children and grownups are together in that environment. I believe that learning is a set of habits and practices thoughtfully applied and not a collection of behaviors to be enforced. I believe that inputs are more essential than outputs, and that changing our emphasis from measuring outputs to measuring inputs would make a difference for children and schools.
I believe that our children are indeed our most precious national resource. They deserve a better model of how to behave and to conduct themselves than we provide for them in the world on most days.
I believe anything worth doing is probably very difficult and that we will fail more often than we succeed. I believe one reason why we see so many simplistic and not terribly useful ideas in education is that sometimes it feels better to have a small and empty victory than it does to risk losing at something that’s actually worth winning.
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I believe in cooperative efforts to discuss, debate, and implement learning opportunities where ultimately legislators, administrators, teachers, and students are all striving together and excited by the possibilities.
It is easy to agree with you on all your points. If we want to do what is best for our students these changes need to happen now. We are currently working on reforming the school system and teacher education in Norway and one of the first changes we need to see here is how to ensure that our educators are among the best and brightest of our generation. I also like this point: I believe we should model with our professional development the best of what we want to see in our classrooms, and teachers too should read, read, read and write, write, write!
I believe Parents are the first teachers a child has and need support to be better teachers as we expect more and more learning to happen at home. For children in dysfunctional families, schools need to support the child through a variety of services. Parents also need to be supported and trained to be better teachers (at home). They also have to be recognized as being competent (just as teachers do) in knowing their child and what their child needs. Too often I see teachers that denigrate parents since the educator is an “expert” rather than “team teaching” with the parent to meet the needs of a specific child.
“I believe that reading is its own reward, and that programs that focus on bribes and trinkets are not good for children or for learning. I believe that tricking children to read by bribing them with tickets or toys or food cheapens the value of the reading and ultimately hurts more than it helps.” How I agree. We should be finding ways to intrinsically motivate children to read such as focusing on “stories” in multiple media, tapping into children’s interests (which will vary from child to child), and allowing students to choose their own material from which they will develop their reading skills (I HATE the summer reading lists as it does not allow to students to learn that reading can be enjoyable in their off times. Summer was the time my kids wanted to catch up on reading books THEY enjoyed, but they had so much ACADEMIC reading to do they often didn’t have time for recreational reading and soon dreaded summer).
“I believe the classroom should be a place that is sometimes in the world and sometimes removed from it.” How true. There are just sometimes when a class needs to be self contained, but not at the expense of the outside world and visa versa. We need to learn to balance the two.
I believe what you wrote is 100% on-target.
Your point: “I believe anything worth doing is probably very difficult and that we will fail more often than we succeed. I believe one reason why we see so many simplistic and not terribly useful ideas in education is that sometimes it feels better to have a small and empty victory than it does to risk losing at something that’s actually worth winning….”
Gold, sheer gold. I’ve been seeing this continuously for years, starting with when my district removed 4th grade honors math because “some other kids might feel bad if they didn’t get into it.” Sigh…..
1. I believe in making every employee within a learning organization feel valued. No job or position is unimportant. The impact on morale is huge and it shows in interactions with students.
2. I believe in the value of school libraries within an organization. Strong school libraries impact student learning in a big way.
3. I believe students should be educated in the style in which they learn best. All worksheet masters should be burned. Does anyone really learn best by filling in the blank?
4. I believe creating a life long love of reading and learning is essential. Not all teachers model this. Do you ever allow your students to see you read something for the sheer joy of reading? If not, see your school librarian-they will be able to hook you up with a great book.
5. I believe teachers can learn from students as much as students can learn from teachers. Unleash the power of the cellphone in the hands of a student. Don’t forbid something because you don’t get the power it has for students.
Beyond perfect! I also believe it’s easier to criticize than to praise and sincere praise plays a very important role in the classroom.
Congrats! Impeccable post.
I believe that parents should be parents so that we can be educator’s.
Great post very thought provoking. I am sending your address out to my friends. I know they will appreciate what you have to say.
I believe that every educator should read your thoughts and let those ideas drive their daily reflection. I believe that listening is the foundation of all good educational practice. Educators (as well as administrators and legislators) are leaders and I believe good leadership demands listening and reflecting.
I would add:
I believe that multiple senses must be engaged for children (or anyone) to learn more deeply.
I believe that children learn best when their emotions are also engaged and they are encouraged to make personal connections to their learning.
I believe that all students should have the right to learn through movement, music, and art- that these opportunities should be included in their daily lives. These are not privileges reserved for those who can afford private lessons for their children.
— I’m certain I have more beliefs to add, but the above are most prominent in my mind at this point.
Very thoughtful collection of beliefs here – I am reminded of Du Bois’ “Credo”, and that is always a powerful and worthwhile reflection. While I need some time to generate my own “educational Credo”, I was wondering if you could clarify what you mean when you wrote;
“I believe that inputs are more essential than outputs, and that changing our emphasis from measuring outputs to measuring inputs would make a difference for children and schools.”
I feel like I agree with this statement, but then am not 100% certain what youa re indicating. What shape would measuring inputs take?
Thanks for y’all’s additions. Rob asks a good question – one that I’ll take up in another post – just wanted you to know I wasn’t ignoring the conversation.