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27 February 2016 @ 06:54 pm
My way or the highway  
Exclusionary thinking. I see tons of this in all walks of life. A former President once proclaimed that you were either supportive of his efforts or you were aligned with the terrorists. The same holds true with some educational discussions. Dvid Coleman and other reformist types drew virtual lines in the sand. As the sing goes, "Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right. Here I am stuck in the middle with you." Some in education want to force a shift: line up on my side or be a bad teacher. Tow the lines or be a bad teachers.

If preparing educators was as simple as pouring the "correct" knowledge into their heads, life would be so much simpler. But the bottom line is thais: kids are not widgets on the assembly line. One book, one approach, one side cannot possibly dress all of their needs. To insist that a list of X number of attributes or a set of X skills is all one needs as a teacher is to ignore the individual nature of the child. It also ignores the autonomy of the teacher, the teacher who can turn on a dime when the situation dictates, who can throw out the carefully planned lesson and one the discussion to something new, something that needs to be discussed NOW.

These reductive, my-way-or-the-highway approaches threaten us all. They threaten the autonomy of the teacher; they threaten the needs, interests, and preferences of the kids; they threaten teacher education programs. And they silence any other perspective.

This silencing of any voice not "approved" is a huge concern. We have seen the effect of this on social media as people have withdrawn from Twitter and Facebook after being hounded by others. There are those out there who insist that if you are not with us, you are against us. These false dichotomies, these dividing lines, these I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong battles do not work well in politics. They work poorly in education, too.

Recently, Donalyn Miller and I talked about our genealogy. Not the familial ancestors, but the ancestors, the pedagogists and get tough leaders who have become part of our own thinking about education. Imagine if I only had one thought leader, one theorist. My genealogy includes many illustrious folks who form the roots and the turn and the branches of my tree. The boughs are strong, the roots deep, the trunk sturdy. I must care for this tree; I must feed it; I must continue to grow it each and every day. So, not exclusionary stance. I need to consider how to take in various thoughts and strategies and actions and incorporate them into those root and branches and leaves. My tree needs to be strong; it needs to provide shelter; it needs to grown
 
 
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