Posted by: darcymullin | March 4, 2011

Let’s move past the blame game


This week I read a couple of great blog posts that have inspired me.  William Chamberlain wrote so eloquently about his personal experiences http://www.onlineschools.org/education-debate/william-chamberlain-i-hide-my-disability/ and George Couros http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/1810  regarding what we should (and should not) be blogging about.  Those posts inspired me to be brave (Chamberlain) and to stay away from the negativity (Couros). 

After the #edchat discussion on Tuesday about the connection (or lack thereof) between High School and Post Secondary institutions I began thinking about our propensity as educators to blame others and how unproductive that is.  As I thought about some of the posts I read, and wrote on Tuesday, I feel that there was just too much finger pointing and blaming one another.  If we want to create a system that is responsive to our students and is entrenched in 21st century skills, we are not engaged in enough open dialogue. 

I remember as a young middle school teacher whining to one of my colleagues and saying “Jeez, these kids are in Grade 7 and they can’t read, what is happening at the Elementary school?  These kids aren’t ready for Middle School!”  We would often hear complaints from high school, “at the Middle School, their all about relationships and don’t cover any curriculum.  The kids just aren’t ready for high school!”  Clearly, these are not the type of conversations that will create collaboration, only animosity.  I think relationships are the driving force behind change and as a system we need to devleop healthy relationships across the entire sytem – Pre-K to Post-Grad.

As educators, we need often feel the need to prepare our kids for the next level, be it Gr. 1, the intermediate years, middle school, high school or post secondary.  In fact we often use it as a threat, “You won’t be able to get away with that next year.” I think that logic is backwards.  The next level, should be preparing for the students it’s about to receive.

To me preparing kids for the next level doesn’t make any sense…preparing them for what?  We should be teaching to be where they are now and preparing them to be learners.  We should encourage them to be thoughtful, engaged, to ask hard questions, think critically and to advocate for themselves.  If students leave the system with these skills we have prepared them for life.   If we prepare them for that we have done our job…let the next level get prepared for the students – not other way around.

I would appreciate your thought and comments.  Thanks for reading

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Responses

  1. I agree with your thoughts. It really isn’t my job to prepare my students for the future, it is to help them learn in the present. It isn’t the same thing.

    We have allowed these negative conversations for too long. It is much easier for the public to criticize us when they see us criticize ourselves. Eldridge Cleaver said in a speech “You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem.” and we need to quit being part of the problem.

    • William, I agree, we have all been guilty of blaming others for the shortcomings of the kids before us. I know in some ways it gave me an “out” as a teacher. I hope I have moved beyond that and am now completely focused on the kids.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. Just last night I was having a conversation with a couple of friends and I commented on how I’m starting to disagree with the whole “have to get the students ready for university” mantra. For me this mentality was taken to the extreme in the early 1980’s when I was in elementary school. I’m not 100% of all the details, but it essentially went like this: Grade 12’s did exams for university; Grade 11’s or 10’s did exams to prep for Grade 12; Grades 9 and 8 did exams for Grade 10; the kicker was that when I was in Grade 7 (!) we were the first class to do final exams. Why? We were told that it was to prepare us for secondary school. That’s 6 years of exams to prep for university.

    At some point the dog has to stop chasing their tail. Whether it is stopping blame or emphasizing the current needs of students (while still maintaining foresight), a constructive dialog should always be encouraged. I don’t have a clear idea of how much interchange there is between primary/elementary/secondary educators, but maybe this is something that needs to be fostered.

    • Thanks for the comments Doug. Six years of test/university prep only prepares us to jump through hoops, not become learners. I know our district is starting to have conversations across different levels and I am sure we are not the only ones. A seamless transition for learners is important, but so is building respect and appreciation for educators at different levels.


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