In my last post I asked a number of questions regarding failure and competition in learning. I much appreciated a subsequent and related post by Chris Wejr, in which he dug deeper into the topic about “losing” and the implications to education. He also provided some ideas for changing the focus and range of the conversation. There are also good responses and sharing of experiences in the comments on his post. Chris also added a further comment that I thought captured some of my own frustrations and also some of the reasons why deeper dialogue and understanding don’t proceed in such education conversations,
…when we talk about more collaboration and less competition, we often get cut off and people immediately respond that “this is not the real world… kids need to learn how to lose”. When we talk about creating more success for students by meeting where they are, we get the same response. When we talk about moving away from awards and shifting to a system that honours each child for a strength they have… we get the “real world losing” comments and fail to move in to discussing learning resilience and building confidence. It is often surface level conversations (often in the media) that hinder deeper conversation. Yes, it is so important to experience falls, mistakes, errors, failures… but experiencing these in a game you don’t want to play against opponents in which you have no chance does nothing but disengage. I find the same frustration when we discuss moving away from grades. People hear this and think that we are all worried about self-esteem and we don’t get to move deeper into dialogue around real assessment.
I think we often have so much to take in and consider with education and schools. When we hear about a new idea or way of doing something we can all have first thoughts and reactions – whether an educator, a parent, or a member of the general public. Parents are often named as a barrier to changes in education. But if they are only experiencing and exposed to surface level conversations and reactions (often through the media), it may be difficult to expect more depth or examination of an issue or idea. I know that Chris is not only an advocate for meeting kids where they are, but also for communicating with and meeting parents where they are. I can understand that parents and members of the public may not be interested and/or have the time to really delve into all education topics, but I still believe there is much to be said about on-going conversations with educators, parents, and community members talking about these more complex topics in the same room (such as “edcamps”) or through online discussions. It is through this sharing of perspectives that can often lead to “second thoughts” about how one perceives an issue or approach. How can we continue to engage and support all stakeholders in education to get past the surface statements and get to that place of “on second thought…”? Is it worth it?
As I was writing this post, I came across this post by Jamie Billingham. I enjoyed her thoughts about leadership and change in education systems and communicating and connecting the narratives of a community.