Changing our Thinking

The name of this blog illustrates our desire to change the education paradigm, but it begs the question of 'how'.  One way we can do that is by changing our organizational thinking, the common wisdom that drives our institutions.  Recently I read a blog called Rethinking the Idea of Focused Goals by Ryan Bretag.  The general philosophy in education is that we need to create a specific, focused plan.  Create a mission statement and stick to the plan.

The author's contention is that focused specific goals have the potential to stifle innovation and growth.  Bretag references an article about how Google thrives by being unfocused.  They don't worry about how a new idea will fit into a focused plan.  This philosophy allows them to live on the cutting edge of innovation. Bretag suggests that schools use themes, "which by their very nature encouraged “flowers to bloom” instead of establishing such rigid goals that only allowed one type of flower to grow".  What would be some productive themes from which a school should operate?  I would think innovation, authenticity, and opportunity would be wide reaching themes that would foster excellence and flexibility.

Some might argue the strict requirements and scrutiny on public schools require a focused plan.  However, I think Bretag is on to something.  This is the Digital Age.  Things are rapidly changing and schools would be better off leading the pack with innovation rather than operating from a reactionary position.  If a school is "focused" on being flexible and innovative how can they go wrong?  I think the main problem that has plagued education is that we have not been flexible and innovative.


  1. When you look at the history of educational reform in the US, reforms like these are always defeated by a change in political philosophy (usually a more Conservative one) that demands that after a period of "loos-y goose-y, learn what interests you" we must go "back to basics" in order to overcome some perceived crisis.

    It would be nice if we could stick with it. The Eight Year Study proved it's best for our kids!

    1. Fantastic point Ryan. I realize its a tough sell. I think we can abide the rigor of "the basics" with a more flexible vision for the future based on themes rather than concrete, specific "one-size-fits-all" outcomes. Thanks for your comments!


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