Tuesday, March 11, 2014

If you went to school, you might (not) be an expert...

Have you noticed that when people talk about changing and improving school, everyone thinks they are an expert?

Sometimes I think this is as predictable as it is unfortunate. We all went to school, so we all think we are experts.

But this makes as much sense as saying that because I use the toilet, I'm an expert on plumbing.

Or I spend money so I'm an expert on the economy.

Granted, we went to school for more than a decade so we might feel like the intensity and duration of this experience was our internship to becoming a teacher or an expert on schooling. Some of us liked it, some of us endured it and too many of us hated it.

Either way, we need to resist the temptation of engaging in what Jamie Vollmer calls Nostesia which describes people who are suffering from a debilitating mental condition that consists of a hallucinogenic mixture of 50% nostalgia and 50% amnesia that distorts rational thinking.

Falsely romanticizing our schooling past can lead to demands that schools just get back to basics. Ironically, sometimes people who hated school come to the same conclusion -- it's as if they are saying, "school was bad enough for me, it's bad enough for my kids."

Where does all this lead? When things are at their worst, all this means more control for people outside the classroom over those who are inside the classroom.

And if you don't believe me, show the picture above to a teacher and listen to their reaction -- you'll get an ear full.

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