Educational Evolution

I left the following comment over on John Spencer’s post at Cooperative Catalyst.

I wonder if evolution more accurately describes how education “reform” is likely to happen.  What we must ask ourselves is “what are the pressures that are most influencing the evolution of education?”  When these pressures are political and financial, we are not evolving an educational system that will best help our students become happy adults.

My reason for thinking educational change is/ought to be evolutionary is partially because of my pragmatic side.  Revolution’s are bloody and teachers are too nice to engage in such bloodshed. Furthermore, revolutions only happen when enough people are fed up with the status quo, and I don’t believe we have that critical mass.

Additionally, I believe the mechanism of evolution is so powerful.  Minor fluctuations in individuals lead to better “results”.  Then these minor changes catch on (or are inherited) and the population changes.  These small changes are what guarantee the survival of the organism (education), and the changes come from within the organism (from teachers).  If teachers aren’t the ones changing education in their classrooms, there will be no change.

Perhaps most importantly for this metaphor of evolution is that organismal fluctuations (mutations) are selected for in response to environmental pressure (different food source, different purpose of school).  If the dominant pressure being put on teachers is to raise test scores, the educational system WILL evolve to increase these test scores.  What we have to ask ourselves is “Are these test scores the pressure we WANT to put on the system?”  So teachers, parents, administrators, school board members – your first task ought to be to really, I mean really think about what you think the goal of the education system ought to be.

I pray you don’t put too much primacy on something as mundane as test scores.

Now, once you have your pressure points in check (identified what you really think the purpose of school should be), fluctuate, mutate, react accordingly.

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