New Year’s Resolution for Education – Quit Whining!
Well it’s that time of year again, when we all decide what sort of gluttony is killing us and try to give it up (at least for a few weeks). The New Year’s resolution is obvious for some. If your couch has more wear than your sneakers, start exercising. If you can’t see your desk through the clutter, get organized. If you wake up and the bathroom scale says 400, step away from your stockpile of Twinkies.
But what happens if you wake up and find you’ve become average? That’s what most American students, teachers, and administrators will see in the bathroom mirror this year, and my suggested resolution is to quit whining.
Oh, we love to whine. “If we only had more technology…” “If we only had less testing…” “If we only had what other schools have…” Whine. Whine. Whine.
Give me a break. Most of the U.S. is about to receive a smack upside the head with a reality stick called Common Core. And it’s gonna leave a mark, because one of the major elements is the requirement that students struggle. And nobody in the land of the free and the home of the entitled likes that.
Want to know how painful student struggle can be? Go ask Kentucky. They fully implemented the Core and test scores dropped like a rock. Thankfully I live in Florida and have a few more years to bask in the delusion that my children are brilliant. Four out of 10 parents in Kentucky aren’t so lucky and recently found out their previously brilliant children are suddenly not even proficient. Ouch. The good news is there’s an easy solution. The bad news is the solution is hard work. Students working harder. Teachers working harder. Parents working harder.
A handful of schools are finding success with this simple formula. Raise the bar and kids succeed. Teach them to work harder and scores go up. Kipp, Uncommon Schools, Aspire Public Schools, Achievement First, Idea Public Schools, these innovative schools are getting above average results with previously below average students. They all have different formulas, but one common theme – students must work harder. And no whining.
Guess what the secret formula is for student success in Singapore, South Korea and Japan? That’s right ‑ hard work. Parents have high expectations, teachers have high expectations. They spent the last 20 years raising the bar, while we lowered the bar enough that little Johnny could step over without tripping on his “participation” ribbon. Please.
Instead of whining about what we don’t have, this year let’s work harder with what we do have. Let’s make every school competency-based like FLVS, so they only get paid for students that work hard enough to succeed. Let’s embrace the struggle that comes with Common Core. Let’s teach our kids the power of practice. And let’s work together to raise the bar. After all, this may not be the year Americans will change their eating habits enough to get skinny, but it might be the year we change our study habits enough to get smart. As long as we resolve to stop whining.
Happy New Year!
Post by John Logan, Former Vice President of Curriculum Innovation for FLVS