Not everything that counts can be counted. And not everything that can be counted counts. Einstein
You've Got to Stand For Something (or You'll Fall for Anything) - lyrics by Aaron Tippin
In a recent blog post, I visited the Radical Center of Education and suggested some principles for achieving this enlightened state of mind and how it will result in a change philosophy that may result in change actually occurring.
- Adopt an "and" not "or" mindset.
- Look for truth and value in all beliefs and practices.
- Respect the perspective of the individual.
- One size does not fit all (kids or teachers).
- If you think it will work, it probably will.
- The elephant can only be eaten one bite at a time. Or is it that you can't leap the chasm in two bounds?
- To travel fast, travel alone. To travel far, travel with others.
- Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know."
- Measurement is good, but not everything can be measured.
- Know and keep your core values.
Measurement is good, but not everything can be measured.
Donald Norman in Things That Make Us Smart: Defending Human Attributes in the Age of the Machine said it well:
The final result is that technology aids our thoughts and civilized lives, but it also provides a mind-set that artificially elevates some aspects of life and ignores others, not based upon their real importance but rather by the arbitrary condition of whether they can be measured scientifically and objectively by today's tools. Consequently, science and technology tend to deal solely with the products of their measurements, they divorce themselves from the real world. The danger is that things that cannot be measured play no role in scientific work and are judged to be of little importance. Science and technology do what they can do and ignore the rest. They are superb at what they do, but what is left out can be of equal or greater importance.
We're certainly focused on "empirical evidence" and "evidence-based practice" and testing, testing, testing in our school district. We're devoting tremendous resources (including technology and technology staff) to online testing, value-added testing, data warehousing and data analysis. Perhaps we are overdue in public education for such an accounting. Unfortunately, that which we can measure given the limits of current testing is a very, very small subset of those attributes which make people successful. And we are discounting those programs and activities which cannot show a direct bearing on basic, low-level test scores.
Data are good. No question. (I look for numbers that support my point of view all the time.) But we in the Radical Center of Education must remember that "what is left out can be of equal or greater importance" and acknowledge values other than empirical evidence if positive change is to occur. We ought to be giving equal credence to professional experience, anecdotal information, meaningful traditions, and the intrinsic value of activities and programs such as play, sports, the arts, libraries, and storytelling.
The Radical Center of Education honors multiple kinds of evidence, not just data (or just anecdote or just tradition, etc.), and uses them to direct and make change.
Know and keep your core values.
RCE theory doesn't work unless the person working for change has deeply held values. While Stephen Colbert makes great sport of the know-nothing philosophy of "truthiness," making RCE change requires both an open mind and values firmly held by both the heart and the head. Without such values, change is simply change for change sake.
I can't recommend a single source of these values, nor should I expect anyone to adopt my list. I will list a few of my own and encourage you to create your own list.
- The solution to most of the world's problems will rely effective education.
- My best judgments are made when I think of myself first as a child advocate, second as an educator, and lastly as a technologist.
- All kids should be treated the way I want my own grandchildren to be treated.
- Creativity, empathy, and humor are as important to success as reading, writing and numeracy.
Thanks for sticking with me for the past week or so as I "write out loud" about the Radical Center of Education. It feels cliche-ridden, lacking in focus, and wanting concrete example as it stands now, but will be fun to work on. I hope many readers offer suggestions for improvement.
Change is a tough, especially humane and lasting change. The Radical Center might be a way to help it come about.