Scenarios behind education

Bearing witness to a teacher's task - The Boston Globe

Many people believe they know what makes effective schools because they have attended school. This is akin to saying I am a physician because I've been in a hospital. I challenge any of this group to spend a week teaching in a public school classroom, exam schools excluded. There, they may attempt to carry out curriculum policies fashioned by politicians while simultaneously managing a group with varied cognitive abilities, language abilities, behavior issues, and family support.

This irate letter to the editor makes an interesting point. Much of the debate around education is based on images of schooling. Some of them based on the fact that the writer 'has gone to school' others on popular culture scripts or, more frequently, blends of the two. This is further peppered by folk theories of learning and the cummulative effect of this learning on the larger group (society).

Of course, that is the first part (italicized by me) - a process which I've recently started calling frame negotiation. The second part invites the critics (and by rhetorical proxy the readers/public) to join in the creation of other conceptual images and scripts that are competing with those identified by the author as harmful.

And then there is the third part that anyone interested in educational reform might want to ponder. All educational activities (including or especially reform) carry a certain logistical/transactional burden which (like a rope to the moon) also needs to be included in the process (carry its own weight). That is the source of quite a bit of cognitive dissonance in educational debates.