The Coming Revolution in Education

If you knew me, you would not be surprised to hear that I have a book on my “to read” pile named The Revolution in the Schools. The edited volume begins in a promising manner; the second paragraph of the Introduction states:

Revolution always look impossible before the fact, inevitable afterward. So it is with the current revolution in American education. New ideas are routing traditional ideas and beginning to transform every aspect of school practice from curriculum to architecture, from structure of the grades to the purpose of learning, from the training of teachers to the motivating of students. Yet as decade ago the “conventional wisdom” about teaching and learning was so entrenched that it seemed impossible for new ideas to sweep through the school with such speed.

It appears the authors are in tune with the most recent developments with school theory and practice. We seem to be in the midst of a true revolution in education. The problem with the story described by these authors is that they claimed education was in the middle of a revolution in 1964. It appears the revolution never happened as the chapter describe the end of grading, the role of computers in schools, educating for creativity, and other topics that are still on educators’ “to do” list these decades later.

The problem of failed educational revolutions, in my view, generally arise from the fact that advocates claim a single revolution is appropriate for each and every educational problem.  It is obvious to me, after more than 30 years in education, that no one solution is going to solve all problems. What is appropriate for one classroom will not be appropriate for another. The sooner school leaders recognize this and we begin giving teachers and school leader the capacity to find, develop, and deploy the solutions that fit the needs of their students and their situations, the sooner we will build the response schools that are promised in books filled with the revolution rhetoric.