Everything and Nothing

One of my Grandad George’s favourite sayings is that “if you are too open minded, your brain will fall out.” This quote can be attributed originally to Lawrence Ferlinghetti (I encourage you to check him out, he’s a pretty interesting individual).
One of my concerns that I have around education and with some educators, in particular some Twitterati, is that they think that any and all new innovation must be the answer to improving the education system. An example of this is the “Teach like Finland” catch cry. Why? What does that even mean? How do we know that this approach will be effective for the ākonga in New Zealand? Is it because it fits with a particular philosophy about what education *should* look like? I believe that, while it’s important that we embrace change and look to ‘disrupt’ (yes, I realise the irony here) the education system we must do so from an evidence based approach.
There is a sense of duty for educators to have pedagogy which is grounded firmly in research. We need to be able to point to a body of research and says it has worked in this context so therefore it should work in my classroom, educators must become more results driven. A recent change to education that I thoroughly enjoy is the of Teacher Inquiries. Educators, using measures to critically examine their work, to change and adapt their practice to help better meet the needs of learners will fundamentally change education for the better. I believe we are beginning to already see the fruits of this approach in the education system. If a newly implemented approach isn’t delivering the results which were expected, educators must recognise this quickly and be prepared to fail fast.
Fail fast is a philosophy that values extensive testing and incremental development to determine whether an idea has value. An important goal of the philosophy is to cut losses when testing reveals something isn’t working and quickly try something else, a concept known as pivoting.
A danger is, with so many points of view about what will improve schools, educators try to focus on everything and achieve nothing. It is important to remember the reason we joined the profession, to raise standards and help students have a better shot at being successful in the future – whatever that may look like.

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