(Two reasons for school reform failure)

A gutsy piece. Common sense tells us that education is a two-way street. Educate is an active verb. It is something one does. It does not happen passively. The teacher should work hard AND THE STUDENT SHOULD WORK HARD.

Yet, defying common sense, education reform efforts have focused only on the first person–not the second! If students don’t learn, the teachers must be doing something wrong! Hello… does that make sense to anyone? NOT ME. Such reforms have not worked and, they will not. So says this gutsy piece by Robert J. Samuelson in the Washington Post.

He cites the (usually uncited and unspoken) reason–students are not motivated to work hard. Thank you, Mr. Samuelson, for telling a truth. In my experience, most teachers are good enough. BUT, they cannot educate students alone. Education is an ACTIVE verb. Teachers need active participation by students (and I would say, parents). Our reforms have been looking in the wrong place.

Back to school magic…

It’s that time of year—the annual, magical beginning of school. Every year, teachers, students, and parents get to start anew. New beginnings. Clean slates. A world of possibilities Dreams. It’s magic!

I left teaching to practice law more than 35 years ago. Yet, that end-of-summer beginning-of-school magic is still powerful in me. There’s nothing like it in the practice of law. Instead of an annual fresh start and clean slates, when we return from vacation, ‘stuff’ is piled high on our desks. Our emails are clogged. We are on a treadmill yet again. Life did not stop. It carried on while we were basking in the sun. We are now in catch-up mode… wondering if taking that time off was worth the reentry pain.

But, I digress. In schools, this is a magic time. I wish you a happy year of success and achievement in 2010-2011 and thank you for your important work.

Education Next.org has a fascinating contest–vote for the book you believe to be most influential. I did.

And I added the comment that Carol Dweck’s book, MINDSET, should have been on that list. It influenced me the most– what teachers and parents can do (and should stop doing) to help students learn, succeed, and thrive. Check that out too–the book and the comment!

What book would you add?

(Top books of the decade)