The writer-physician Atul Gawande has written about the phenomenon of "positive deviants" in the medical profession, that small set of players who are mired in the same environmental conditions as everyone else but stubbornly refuse to allow themselves to be constrained by conventional wisdoms, and as a consequence are able to identify fresh and often counter-traditional ways to address seemingly intractable problems.The idea of a positive deviant intrigues me. I'm not a big fan of labels, but it is probably safe to say that I am a kind of positive deviant. When I talk about abolishing grading, changing the homework default or reducing/eliminating curriculum, I am often encountered with a myriad of responses that resemble pragmatism, realism, skeptism, and flat-out apathy.
I'll be honest, I am sometimes shocked by how resistant and closed minded some teachers can be towards change.
Maybe I'm being unfair. Maybe this isn't a teacher thing but a human being thing. I don't know.
Either way, I find it disturbing how rigidly opposed or hopelessly apathetic educators can be towards change.
And then I think of an even more disturbing thought. If this is how they treat positive deviants who are their colleagues, how do they treat the positive deviants that are in their classroom?