#MakeSchoolDifferent: What We Need To Stop Pretending

On my prep this afternoon, I happened to catch this blog post by Donna Fry (thanks to a tweet from Sue Dunlop) with a very important challenge.

2015-04-21_19-06-11Like Donna, I also really enjoy Scott McLeod’s Blog and I like what this challenge is encouraging. Maybe to move forward in our own schools and communities, we need to start by being up front about what’s not happening and isn’t perfect in education. With this in mind, here’s my list of five.

When it comes to education, we have to stop pretending …

1) That we’re all on the same page. We’re not. We don’t all embrace the same philosophies, and we often have different priorities based on our own beliefs and school experiences. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe the key lies in continuing to reflect on what’s best for kids (and then responding to these needs).

2) That we’re all making changes. Some educators really believe in the need to change practices (e.g., to embrace inquiry in the classroom, to encourage more thinking and real world applications in math, etc.), and some believe that the way that they taught before is best. They’re still seeing results. They feel that there are gaps in the new methods. There seems to be this swinging pendulum between extremes — new versus old — and I can’t help but wonder if sometimes there’s a need for a middle ground.

3) That kids are kids. Yes, in some ways they are. Many have overlapping interests. Many have similar behaviours. And yet, socio-economic factors, language factors, and/or mental health factors (along with other factors, I’m sure) can make a difference. Not all students have the same life experiences. Not all students come to school with the same knowledge. Can they make gains? Absolutely! But we may have to start at a different point with different strategies because of their varying needs. This does not mean that we should set the bar lower, but instead, be open for new and/or different approaches. Sometimes theory and practice do not align perfectly.

4) That parents don’t care, or it’s only some parents that care. I’ve worked at six very different schools in our Board, and connected in many different ways with parents at all of them. I’ve noticed that what works for some parents doesn’t work for all, or what works best for us isn’t what’s best for parents. Just like we differentiate for students, maybe we need to do the same for parents.

5) That technology improves student engagement and instruction. It can, but it doesn’t always. I think it’s all in how this technology is used. If we’re using technology as electronic worksheets, then we’re not really making changes. Yes, we need to start somewhere, but we also need to progress from where we started. Technology makes the biggest difference when we start to reflect deeply on pedagogy and our own teaching practices, and when we ask, “What can we do differently to better meet the needs of our students?” I think that the key isn’t technology: it’s self-reflection and meaningful change

Now that we have these different lists of five (of which mine is only one), where do we go next? Maybe it begins with in-school discussions about the topics on these lists, and where each of us perceive our needs. We may all have different starting points, but I think that’s okay: we’re all still moving in the right direction. This blogging challenge seems like a great first step in us progressing from “talking” to “doing.” What do you think?

I would love to hear all of your “lists of five,” but in the spirit of the challenge, here are the five bloggers that I hope will also give this a try.

Kristi Keery-Bishop

Sue Dunlop

Jo-Ann Corbin-Harper

Jonathan So

Brian Aspinall

I’m excited to read your thoughts!




6 thoughts on “#MakeSchoolDifferent: What We Need To Stop Pretending

  1. Hi Aviva, I loved your insight on what educators need to stop pretending/assuming. My absolute favourite part of this blog was where you stated, “There seems to be this swinging pendulum between extremes — new versus old – and I can’t help but wonder if sometimes there’s a need for a middle ground.” I feel that even as a student I can relate to you on this one! I am constantly caught in the middle of people who totally love the changing technology in their classrooms and others who neglect/ignore the technology without giving it a try. I personally believe that a balance of everything is the best way to live! As a student perspective, a middle ground is the perfect way of incorporating technology into the classroom. I love using technology in my classrooms but sometimes there is something beautiful and more meaningful when I chose to write in my book, versus on a computer. I agree with you that it’s important to have a variety of all options. For example, when it comes to books, there is nothing better than having a physical copy of the book and reading it in English class for myself. However, for others they may prefer to have an e-book where they can read it on their phones/kobos. An example of where I am the opposite is for math because in math I love online textbooks, while others dislike it. At the same time, I wonder why others do not like online textbooks. Not every student has wifi at home or an ipad/laptop or if they have a computer it might not be the most update/ new computer. This may make it more frustrating for the student who has to access their textbooks online when they do not have the access to it at home.

    -Labika Ghani

    • Thanks Labika for sharing your insights! I always appreciate a student perspective. You also make a great point that what works for some may not work for all, and providing options are always beneficial. As an adult learner, I appreciate choices as much as my students do. I’d be very curious to hear your list of five. Maybe you’d consider this for one of your blog posts. What do you think?


      • Hey Aviva! Thank you and I might just do one over the weekend on a student perspective towards teachers/educators on our list of 5! I would want to collaborate with other students and have them share it on my blog post as well, to make the post more diverse! So it might take a while before I share it!!

        • Thanks Labika! I’d love for you to collaborate with others and try out the challenge. Education is not just about teachers, but a whole community of learners, and I think that students are an essential part of this community: we NEED your voices!


    • Thanks for the comment, Scott! Your challenge really has us looking at the “realities in education,” and what we can do to change the current realities. Thank you!


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