By Dr. Ryan Donlan
Department of Educational Leadership
Bayh College of Education
Indiana State University
Last week, I turned-on the television in anticipation of a network program that I enjoy and heard from a distance the final few minutes of an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, starring Ray Romano. It appeared that Raymond was testifying at a school board meeting, but in retrospect, I’m not sure.
What I AM sure about was that he made a great point in saying something to the effect of, “Are we protecting our children’s futures by sacrificing their present?” as he exited the podium at the show’s conclusion.
I’d like to ask us if we’re inadvertently doing just that in education today – protecting our children’s futures by sacrificing their present. A few indicators would say that we are, such as …
1. Worrying so much about students’ abilities to be “on track” academically once reaching adulthood, that we over-assess along the way, inadvertently creating a malaise of academic disdain through our good intentions and a hyper-vigilant desire for formative snapshots?
2. Saddling such an incredible burden for future, academic outcomes upon the shoulders of teachers and children that we half-life (or more) the time children are allowed to “play” and “socialize” in the present. By doing so, could we be inhibiting age-appropriate, socio-emotional development necessary as a stable foundation for learning?
3. Requiring for the future of our schools that our school leaders serve the majority of any given day as lesson-scripting, in-class, instructional analysts. By prescribing, play-by-play, the details of leadership, have we taken away our principals’ abilities to serve children who so desperately need them when they walk through the schoolhouse gate each morning? What good is a principal’s “open door” if the office is empty?
What indicators do you see? Would you be willing to share?
I have no idea which episode I watched briefly or the story behind why Raymond was testifying. For that matter, it may not have even been a school board meeting.
Yet when life greets me with a moment to pause and ask myself, “Are we doing the right thing?” I try to involve a few trusted friends in the conversation.
My next thought as I ponder the aforementioned is one of the inverse …
“Are we [over]protecting our children’s present, and by doing so, sacrificing their futures?”
That might be a whole ‘nother conversation.
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