No Paradox Here

John Spencer thinks that education is filled with paradox, and lists a number of sources. I couldn't help but notice that I didn't see the paradox in any item on his list.

So, here's his list, with my take on it, resolving the paradox.

  • Knowledge: It’s both internally constructed and influenced by the external environment.
No. Knowledge is not constructed; it is derived entirely from the external environment.
  • Results: There’s a place for valuing both tasks and relationships.
There are only relationships. No task has any value without being based in a relationship.
  • Assessment: There is a place for both quantitative and qualitative data.
There is no quantitative data, only qualitative data. When we add numbers to observations, we are not creating a new type of data, we are joining a fiction to existing data.
  • Teaching Strategies: It’s a craft, which means it is both an art and a science.
All science is art; there is no distinction.
  • Leadership: Leading means being humble and being bold.
Leadership means only being humble. Being 'bold' happens when you abandon leadership and take a turn being selfish.
  • Discipline: It requires showing mercy and being just.
There is no justice without mercy; mercy is the sole source and meaning of justice. Otherwise, justice means only that the strong prevail.
  • Motivation: All humans are both internally and externally driven
All humans are internally driven. We are informed by knowledge, but we are driven by the passions.
  • Creativity: It happens when students have freedom and limitations
 Creativity is possible even if there are limitations, but only if there is freedom.
  • Instruction: Depth and breadth both matter
One person's depth is another person's breadth, and vice versa. no piece of instruction is ingherently deep or broad; it depends entirely on point of view.
  • Choice: There is a place for both student choice and teacher choice.
There is only a place for student choice. Students may freely choose to follow the suggestions of instructions, but if that freedom is removed, then what results is not learning, it is subjugation. 
  • Climate: Classrooms should be academic, but also human
Classrooms should be human. To the extent that classrooms are non-human (if that's what 'academic' means) then they are broken. Classrooms that are genuinely academic are fully human.
  • Identity: We are all a mix of good and bad
We are neither good nor bad. We do not have an inherent nature. We are judged to be good or bad, but this judgement is made by others, and is based on their needs and interests, and is therefore irrelevant.
  • Planning: Be prepared in advance, but be flexible in the moment
Being flexible is possible only with prior preparation. The opposite of preparation isn't flexibility, it's being frozen in fear and confusion.
  • Strategies: Using research-based best practices while also trying new approaches and pushing innovation
The only research-based best practice is to continue trying new approaches and innovating.


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