The Dreaded Pendulum Swing

Whenever I have been involved in a discussion about improving teaching in K-12 schools, someone almost always notes how the “pendulum swings”. By this statement, they mean that efforts to improve schooling swing back and forth and anything “new” is just a return to something that’s been tried in the past. Of course, the tone of the comment indicates that what was tried in the past did not work. Unfortunately, it is easier to blame the “new” idea/strategy rather than looking at ourselves to see how we might have implemented poorly, but this is not my point.

Many of us (well, me anyway) are fascinated by the coin funnels we occasionally come across. You know, when the coin gets rolled down a ramp and rolls around a large funnel getting closer and closer to the middle and finally spinning wildly down the tube and ending with a clink as it joins its brethren inside the darkness. Imagine you could watch the coin from the side (e.g. a cross-section of the funnel). The coin would oscillate back and forth – much like a pendulum. Yet, we know the coin is not merely oscillating but spinning closer and closer to its final goal. We know this because we have greater perspective.

Perhaps those who complain about the pendulum simply don’t have enough perspective. They don’t see how every “new” idea gets us closer and closer to the goal.

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4 Responses to The Dreaded Pendulum Swing

  1. Mr. Kruse,

    My name is Aimee Perkins and I am a college student at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL. I am currently in a class called Education in the Media and we are assigned specific teachers to read and comment on their blogs.

    After reading “The Dreaded Pendulum Swing”, I have to say that I have never looked at it from this point of view and I guess that is mainly your point. People don’t look at things from a different angle and instead just complain and give up. In our mall here in Mobile there is actually one of those large funnels where you can spin money down into it for charity. I’ve always just rolled some change down in it and looked at it from above. Next time I go there I’m going to have to glance at the view from the side (the funnel is see through) and see how it looks more like a pendulum.

    I really enjoyed reading your blog and if you have any advice or suggestions for me as a future teacher you can find me right here: My Class Blog


  2. Lauren Lee says:

    Mr. Kruse,
    I am Lauren Lee and I am an elementary education major at the University of South Alabama. I truly enjoyed reading this post and it definitely makes one think about this perspective. I definitely agree that those that have this broad perspective of anything new being something that failed in the past should most definitely broaden their perspective.
    Lauren Lee


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