Thinking is dangerous. Please stop.

A friend of mine sent me this blog by John Robinson (@21stprincipal) called “How to be an educator when thinking becomes dangerous.” It starts with “For all the talk and blather about teaching students to think critically and creatively, we need to face the reality that much of our political and educational establishment is actually more interested in conformity, and teaching others to think in certain privileged ways.”

What Robinson brings to light is despite the pomp and circumstance of 21st century learning, critical thinking, and technology integration, school desperately wants to stay the same, and the blame falls at the feet of teachers and administrators. Much of the problem with school lies in the dichotomy of realities that occupy the same space. In the best of times these realities would be similar, but in fact administration, teachers, and students operate within three separate realities. Worse yet, these realities are justified and defended. Mind boggling.

Even more confusing is the response to divergent thinking. People see you as an educational missionary and are perplexed at your aversion to conformity. You are ostracised for innovation because you propose something that isn’t easy, universal, or manageable for reasons that have nothing to do with learning. Opposers cite the schedule, staffing, and sports as legitimate reasons to rebuff change, and they do so exhibiting behaviors similar to those they discourage from those in their classrooms.

Thinking is dangerous because it can cause different. With education’s single minded efforts toward conformity, different is scary. What if we turned the focus from being afraid of different to making effort to get better? Let me make my main point here: Know what you believe. Don’t stop thinking. Don’t stop pressing the envelope. And, don’t be discouraged. More of a rant than a blog, but...well, you know.

Your thoughts are welcomed and encouraged,

Dane Barner


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