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Good People; The Product of Good Schools

The nightly business reports frequently mention inputs and outputs. Gross National Product (GNP) is a widely recognized leading economic indicator. Widgets aside, what is the product of schools? Some of you want to jump on a table and scream, "children are not products!Let this breathe a bit as you trudge forward.



In his recent post, Mark Heintz eloquently shares his ruminations to a question being kicked around in our Modern Learners community, "What do we want our children to be?" Credit Pam Moran, Ira Socol, and Chad Ratliff, co-authors of "Timeless Learning; How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-based Thinking Change Schools," for sparking this conversation theme. Timeless Learning provides interesting provocations, inspiring experiences, and compelling rationale for school change.

Like others, my school's leadership team is engaging in discussions about reimagining school to meet the needs of our modern learners. These conversations are seldom easy, seemingly unproductive, but necessary. It takes patience, empathy, and open perspective to strip away layers of long-held beliefs held by educators who for the most part have thrived in traditional school settings. It takes beautiful, and often challenging, questions to get to the heart of what is real and what is essential. Heintz's post is a call to action to deeply consider and articulate what we want our students to be.

Playing the role of "man-on-the-street," I rephrased Mark's question and asked some of our teachers to fill in the blank with the first thing that came to mind. Play along, won't you?

"I want our children to be _______________________."

With a sample size of about one hundred, here are the most common responses in no particular order:

  • Happy
  • Safe
  • Kind
  • Curious
  • Healthy
  • Friendly
  • Honest
  • Responsible
  • Empathetic
  • "good people."
Next, I asked fifty students a similar question. "Considering your school-based experiences, respond with the first thing that comes to mind."

"I want to be __________________"

Not surprisingly, the most common responses were:

  • Happy
  • Healthy
  • Friendly
  • Independent
  • Valued
  • " a good person."

I asked another fifty students to respond with the first thing that comes to mind.

"I want my teachers to be _______________."

If you are predicting the list of responses to this question is very similar to the two previous records, you are correct. My school is thick with wisdom! Watch the evening news, read the daily newspaper or magazine, listen to the most popular podcasts; what do our country and the world need more than anything else at this time? 

Climb down off the table, the world needs more of what schools can be very proficient at producing, good people.

Related Reading

Literate, Numerate, or Curious? Bruce Dixon, Modern Learners. August 2017.

What School Could Be. Ted Dintersmith, 2017.

Zero-based Thinking in Education. Ira Socol, September 2018.

Curriculum Not Included. Gary Stager, January 2012.

photo credit: MTSOfan A Hug from Daddy via photopin (license)

Comments

Pam said…
Robert-

Excellent! Love the action research on that question and not surprised at the responses. I see responses to that question as a critical “measure” of our success as educators. And, if those responses are aligned, I wonder what practices we affirm and which ones we work to eliminate because of that research. Thanks for sharing!

Pam Moran
@pammoran

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