I’ve spend a lot of time on social media, reading blogs and interacting in numerous ways with colleagues all over the world. This has been the most professionally rewarding time of my career and I definitely learn something new every single day. Inevitably, the subject of school reform is a recurring theme in my social media circles. The communication is lively and full of great ideas for ending the industrial model of education and moving to a model salient to 21st Century skills. It’s inspiring.
When I work with teachers and schools in the “real world,” I get a very far different view. Teachers are overwhelmed by the requirements of their job, especially the emphasis on standardized tests. The thought of completely changing what they do is terrifying and seemingly unrealistic. With their jobs on the line, determined by the test scores of children, teachers out in the trenches do not seem at all interested in school reform.
Are we blogging and tweeting to the choir? I’m not here to answer the question; I am seriously asking, “Are we in an echo chamber?” In Karl Fisch’s excellent post, “The Myth of the Echo Chamber,” he describes why the echo chamber does not exist. I respect Karl tremendously but my own experiences highlight a disconnect between education reformers in the social mediasphere and the daily life in classrooms. It seems like a minority of teachers are highly motivated reformers and the majority are trying to survive crowded classrooms, slashed budgets and increased pressure from testing. This doesn’t mean teachers do not want reform…they’re just exhausted! If this is true, how to we end the echo chamber and bring everyone into the conversation. If you look at the image, how do we bring the majority of teachers out of the “deep” and into the ed-reform conversation?