A Time for Myth Busters

I now live in a country where most people don’t believe or trust their leaders, their newspapers, their scientists, their police, and more. Shoot, we don’t even trust one another. Today, facts and truths are neither if you don’t agree with them. This is a frightening reality. Yet it feels like we also live in a country where we seem totally impotent to change that reality.

Will Richardson, On Trump and Tech

Last week, I quoted Bruce Dixon

“Perhaps the truly biggest myth about school change is about the possibility. So little has changed by so few, that many still find it hard to believe it’s even possible. Maybe we should begin by busting some of the myths that endorse our current model of school and create some truths that better reflect the realities of learning in our modern world.”

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-4-57-20-pmIn reflecting on this quote and working out the notion of epiphanies, I noted that the next step in our explorations revealed itself to be a reflection about what makes change so hard.

In my work in schools throughout the country, I noted that teachers and school leaders frequently cited the need for change… and most of the changes they identified were “other” directed – i.e., if only the students would change, if only the regulations weren’t so oppressive and stifling, if only the administrators/teachers would do their job, etc.

At same time that this “other directed” notion of change is so prevalent, we are reading more and more about the importance of developing “growth mindsets” in our students. But wait a minute. This too is, at least partially, other directed.

We could persist in organizing and “doing” school with our fixed mindsets without ever looking more deeply into the ways in which our fixed “truths” about school and learning might, in fact, be more myth than truth and are contributing to the continuation of what Dixon referred to as the greatest myth about our work…

“…the biggest and fattest myth is that the learning needs of our young modern learners today are well served by the traditional model of schooling.”

What might a growth mindset in us, as educators, reveal to us about the work we do?

And so, the homework…

Reflecting on Dixon’s quote, what are some of the myths that you feel we should be busting (e.g., Do you really think that kids learn best by sitting in rows and listening?) and what are the truths that we should be building upon (e.g., Learning that matters can take at any time in any place)? What are the myths where you work that are driving the things that kids (and adults experience in your building(s)? What are there intended and unintended consequences of adhering to such myths?

Want a little more? Here’s a slide I’ve used before. It comes from Will Richardson’s presentation at TEDxWestVancouverED. Look at the two columns and rate them as “truth” or “myth”.

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 4.07.32 PM.pngComing next… practical actions to move our practice from myths to truths.

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