School is School

I think that most would agree that there is enough available research that points to the fact that the traditional stand and deliver, industrial model of school is not what is best for learners in the 21st century. We know that students learn best when given autonomy and freedom. We know that students learn from one another, and that teachers who facilitate learning rather than dictate content are successful. However, we also know that the traditional model of education has been very difficult to break free from. For some reason, school always reverts back to what it has always been. The question then is why, despite a wealth of evidence to support the fact that education should change, does in not change?

I thought of this question today as I looked down the hallway of the school that I currently teach at. The bell rang, students poured into the hallway, and within four minutes the hallway was again clear as new students had entered the rooms where the previous ones had left. And I’m sure this hallway has looked much the same way since the school opened in 1957. And that, is school. Everyone has a certain expectation of what is school is because, for them, that has always been school and that seems to be what school will always be. Teachers were taught in a certain way and they then teach in that same way. Students have become accustomed to learning in the same way that their parents and grandparents learned because that is school. Even if we know what school should be, there seems to be comfort in keeping school as it was and is.

I have seen the pull of school as school first hand for almost 10 years. It was about 10 years ago that I really started to change how I taught and how my classes functioned. And each year since then I have moved further away from what school was towards what I hope school to become. And as I have been on this journey I have come to realize that it is not an easy one. I am in complete control of my classroom and my students. And I work hard over the course of a semester, year, or years to transform what they know about school into how I want school in my classroom to be. But for everyone in my school from administrators, to students to parents, school is still school and what I do is something other than that. I am fine with being different. My classes are taught differently than most and students learn differently than most while they are in them. But for most, looking at them from the outside, they are not school because they are different than the definition of what school is. For now, school is school but I hope that as more researchers and more teachers change how they teach and how students learn school can become so much more.

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