Educating with vs. over

A friend who is a principal at a large public high school shared a story of a faculty meeting that happened this morning. The administrators were talking about different curricula and making decisions on which apps and programs to go with.

A respected teacher, who’s been teaching at the school for decades, stood up and said, “If you are going to tell us which curricula or programs to use, I’m going to resist it at every turn. How much say will we have in setting the course agenda?”

To which the principal responded, “What would make the student’s experience any different? If you force them to use a certain book and tell them what to learn and when, what’s to stop them from resisting at every turn?”

Seth Godin published a blog last week about learning to work with versus under or over. [Spoiler alert: The ideal situation is to find people who work with you.]

Schools are designed for the teachers to have power over students, which conditions students to work under teachers. Schools are designed that way to get young people ready to work under supervisors.

But what would happen if we started to design classrooms where students worked with teachers to decide what and how to learn?

The first objection is that students don’t know enough about what to learn or wouldn’t be responsible enough to actually want to learn anything.

But that objection misses the point: it’s way more valuable to demonstrate how a partnership, how truly working with someone, can really work out.

The main challenge facing this coming revolution in education comes from all sides. Students aren’t used to it. Teachers aren’t used to it. And you know that parents are going to balk as well.

However, the revolution is going to come whether or not people want it to. It’s just a matter of time before education design catches up. Why? Because the model of working with is just so much more powerful than working under/over.

You have the choice to add your voice to the movement, and even better, to demonstrate what it is to work with young people by using coaching concepts and skills.

Let’s get to work. 🙂

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