Sunday, July 25, 2010

If you never change your mind, why have one?

I was reading Scott McLeod's blog Dangerously Irrelevant when I came across a post that asked the question: Should we absolve Diane Ravitch of her earlier decisions?

Scott asks:

What should we do with Diane Ravitch? Welcome her back into the fold of public education advocates? Do we just say, “Oh, hey, glad you now see the light. Thanks for joining us!” Or do we continue to condemn her for past actions, believing that current contrition is not enough?
The first thought that comes to my mind is an old quote that I've read somewhere:

If you never change your mind, why have one?
If keeping an open mind and being willing to change one's opinion based on new information is good for kids, it had better be good for adults, too.

I also was very impressed with Kate Nowak's comment:

Would you instead have her stick to her guns despite having learned and grown and changed her mind? A public reversal this drastic can’t have been easy but I think it speaks to her intellectual integrity.

I'll put it another way. If Barrack Obama came out tomorrow and said he made a mistake appointing Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education and wanted to replace him with an educator like Linda-Darling Hammond, would we embrace him?

If Arne Duncan came out tomorrow and said that he was wrong to enforce even more test and punish accountability, and that he wanted to work with teachers to develop performance assessments that assessed a sample of students rather than everyone, would we embrace him?

Still not convinced?

On a personal level, I have to embrace Diane. Knowing that my first four years of teaching was filled with assigning homework, worksheets and Nazi-like adherence to a grading regiment, I could not live with myself if I did not allow Diane to change her mind and her ways just as I did.

Just as sound classroom assessment practices should focus on how well students understand something and not simply when they understand it, we must do the same for Diane.

Just as sound classroom assessment practices should focus less on cataloging mistakes and more on helping kids grow, we too must do the same for Diane.

We accomplish nothing by burying hatchets in one another's backs.


  1. Let's not forget the favorite website of Progressives is HuffPo. Arianna Huffington did a complete political 180, from right to left. She's the biggest thing on the web. Not much condemnation there.

    I agree with Joe.

  2. I agree with the main premise, but . . .

    why does she have to be the absolute expert people quote? I see people retweet whatever she writes and honestly it isn't well-written, innovative or interesting. There are others saying the same thing with better reasons, better language and a track record to back them up.

    why is she seen as someone who has more knowledge than others when folks like Alfie Kohn have been saying this stuff for years?

    why is she chosen as a keynote speaker at the NEA conference rather than a teacher?

    I am more than happy with welcoming her back into the fold, but I'm not quite ready to make her the leader.

  3. Yes, if you got opportunity to learn anything good then must accept it even from your subordinates.


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