Friday, April 8, 2011
The power of mutual knowledge
I understand why many teachers feel the need to shut their classroom doors and teach as if they were on an island. For some of these teachers, they do this out of necessity. It's sadly ironic that in order for some teachers to be innovative and creative, they need to isolate themselves from the shackles of the system's unreasonable standards and accountability regimes.
These teachers engage in a kind of professional subversion.
These teachers become what Barry Schwartz calls system dodgers.
While system dodging can be fueled with good intentions, it simply is not sustainable; educators need to move from being mere system dodgers, who the system is glad to pick off one at a time in isolation, and graduate to being system changers.
However, if educators ever wish to move beyond having to bend the system's rules in order to do right by kids, we need to assemble in the metaphorical public square where everyone will see everyone else. Once educators assemble where everyone can see everyone else, everyone knows that everyone else knows that everyone else knows that the hyper-prescribed, content-bloated curriculums and high stakes test and punish testing bureaucracies are loathed.
It is through this mutual knowledge that educators will gain the collective power to challenge the idea that those outside of the classroom have more control over those who are inside the classroom.