This is a fairly long read for a newspaper link, but whether you agree with the position John Goodlad is sketching out here or not, I think it would be hard to say it isn’t thought provoking.
But, as 2009 merged into 2010, the expectations for a new dawning in schooling were slipping away. The good news was that the No Child Left Behind Act soon would be history. But the proposals for “reform” were déjà vu all over again—been there, done that.
I suddenly awakened to the realization that we were tinkering, one more time, toward an ill-defined utopia.
I was dumbfounded. How could we so ignore the lessons of 50 years of failed school reform and the learning and strategies of those hundreds of innovative boutique projects, funded over these years by billions of dollars from philanthropic foundations, that excited and changed thousands of teachers nationwide?
How could we simply set aside the conclusions and recommendations of those many behavioral and social scientists in the fields of economics, history, psychology, sociology, child development, psychometrics, philosophy, education, and more, who have from their inquiries provided so much of the knowledge necessary for those whose work it is to guide the becoming of a wise people? And what about the knowledge of those experienced practitioners, thoughtful parents, and others? Is there any major field of endeavor other than schooling that has so little agency for its own mission, conduct, and well-being?
Given this reality, it is not surprising that the schooling enterprise is so rife with evidence-free ideology regarding its functioning. We will never have the schools we need until local communities, educators and their organizations, and policymakers share a common mission for them. And we will never have the world-class schools we seek until the people closest to them and best prepared for their agency are their designated stewards.
Now that the state is getting seriously into another era of school reform, it makes sense for us to study and learn from those of the past half-century. There are peculiarities that require considerable thinking if one tries to connect them with both reality and major patterns of human behavior. Significant change in most organizations, corporations included, comes from inside.
The article is filled with links to/about other interesting works and policy papers on education, schooling, and reform that are going to get read by me, at least, in a couple of weeks. Still, I’m eager, after reading this one, to see what he is going to say in the next two installments.