Friday, January 7, 2011

thoughts out there...

This week has quietly revolved around getting back into the swing of things. Nothing overly exciting or monumental to report. We're just chugging along at the Think-Tank listening to stories of Santa's visits, new shoes, and new video games.

I've found some items on my google reader that struck me.  The first is on how using comic sans can actually help kids. In a world where we tend to over use comic sans even though we're all sick of it, it's an interesting take. (And really something to be applied beyond comic sans and just to how we approach teaching in general).

The other is a piece from the Huffington Post on unions and districts working together. I'm not overly taken with the whole article, but I loved the beginning message. Weingarten writes,
"Tension and conflict make good stories. That's why Hollywood's latest crop of movies includes tales of good against evil (Season of the Witch), revenge (True Grit), overcoming inner demons (The King's SpeechCountry Strong), and triumphing against all odds (The Fighter).
Conflict also makes good newspaper copy and must-watch TV for the 24-hour cable news beast. (The flight attendant who quit his job via the emergency exit gets 15 minutes of fame, while the flight attendant who works diligently to make you safer and more comfortable gets, at best, a pat on the back.) That's why, when it comes to our schools, the quickest way for a governor or superintendent to grab headlines is to yell "my way or the highway" and come out swinging.

I suppose it should be obvious that bare-knuckles brawling is unlikely to lead to progress, but I have to admit it took me a while to see things this way. When I first became a union leader, I was quick to identify the enemy, fire up members and wage war for what I believed to be right. Eventually, I learned that if you set out looking for a fight, you'll find one -- but you probably won't find a solution."
This same theory can be applied within schools themselves. Tension and conflict  makes good movies- which is why Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers, and all those other 'one teacher vs the evil public school' make incredibly moving movies and stories.  But in reality, what makes good schools is teacher collaboration. Not having just one person out there going at it alone to save the world, but a dedicated group working together. I write about collaboration frequently, because I believe it is what makes the Think-Tank such an amazing school, and that good, quality collaboration between teachers is what will improve our schools more than bringing in "white knights", the perfect textbooks, or a magical curriculum. I was glad to see something about collaboration out there in the education-policy debate, even if it isn't focused on collaboration within schools. 


Sherrie said...

I am planning on reading both the articles you linked, sometime this weekend. TFS

Kelly said...

Very true about what makes a good movie vs. what actually makes good teaching. Sometimes I'm not sure if those movies have helped or hindered our profession!