As the management theorist Peter Scholtes used to say, “People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.” (Note: people includes students of all ages.) Thank you, Alfie, for this quote from management theorist Peter Scholtes. It’s a good thing to reflect upon as we welcome 2013. Then read the whole column: “…the quality of an idea doesn’t justify an attempt to shove it down people’s throats. Nor does it increase the likelihood that such an effort will be successfully digested. ( Read the whole column: “http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/decree.htm)
We have two problems. One is that so many so-called reform ideas are either stupid (e.g. fear can motivate good thinking) or ill-intended (making a profit off children’s eduction, outlawing unions, etc). But the second problem is, in some ways, an old enemy and harder to fight. It’s one practiced by the right and left, and those in-between, and more complicated to tackle. There’s probably almost none of us who take Alfie’s advice when it comes to… You name it. Every rule and regulation, after all, is a form of coercion.
So, what’s the alternative. How do we separate those ideas that truly “can’t” be shoved down our throat and still do good from those that we have reason to believe will, over time and with strict enforcement, rightfully prevent us from doing evil to others.
“To make an omelette you have to break eggs,” is an expression that goes back more than 60 years–in the the aftermath of the Russian revolution of 1917). It proved prescient. The eggs have gotten their revenge. The idea that the ends do not justify the means is ancient But on the other hand it’s alternative is a shaky proposition too. We can all think of circumstances, I suspect, in which lives were lost–including those of thousands and thousands of innocent victims–for a good that we believe in. Not to mention all the nuances in-between.
It’s tough to be human. But let’s face it, and carry out our arguments with awareness that we ourselves hold contradictory beliefs and so do some of those we hope to win over to our side. So, I “single-mindedly” wish that by exercising our best “teacherly” practices we will be closer to ending the abusive use of standardized testing! Not to mention ending a few other even more abusive practices.
So I count my blessings….such as the freedom to write and receive these messages! And Happy New Year.
Filed under: 2013 posts