If we’re not irrelevant, what are we?
As I look across the presentations and workshops and keynotes that educational leadership faculty are sponsoring and facilitating, outside of a few isolated pockets I don’t see much evidence that we’re having wide-ranging and substantive conversations about the need for students to:
- engage in deeper and higher-level learning instead of spending 80% to 85% of their time on regurgitation and recall of low-level knowledge items (that can be found via smartphone voice search in seconds);
- possess greater agency and ownership of their own learning in order to foster engagement and self-directedness instead of being directed by teachers and schools toward control and compliance;
- have opportunities to engage in authentic, meaningful learning activities instead of isolated, disconnected-from-the-real-world classroom assignments; or
- utilize digital technologies in academic- and work-productive ways that go far beyond social uses or mere replication of analog instructional practices.
I rarely see or hear educational leadership faculty talking about the profile below of high school graduates, even though these student life skills are absolutely foundational to schools’ and policymakers’ current college and career readiness efforts:
I rarely see or hear educational leadership faculty talking about these components of ‘future ready’ schools:
We are preparing instructional leaders for P-12 schools but I rarely see or hear us talking about how to help preservice or practicing administrators understand how to (re)design school structures, curricula, units, lessons, and instructional activities to move in the directions noted above. [indeed, I have some doubts that most of us faculty would even know how] Even though social justice is a deeply held belief for most of us, we rarely discuss the intersections of that concept with changing workforce readiness needs or how the inequities of students’ digital access are extended and exacerbated when it comes to students’ digital usage. I don’t see most educational leadership faculty having broad and rich conversations about how technology has and will transform almost everything, what ‘college and career readiness’ or ‘personalized learning’ even mean these days, or what our roles are as faculty, parents, community members, and citizens to deal with all of this.
We do a great deal of research and teaching on interesting and important topics. We speak out against the marginalization of underserved and underrepresented groups. We talk a lot against federal and state policy. But we rarely foster ‘future ready’ policies, instructional and leadership practices, or school organizational redesigns. When we talk about student voice, it’s primarily within the frame of empowerment within local, not global, contexts. We talk marginally, if at all, about furthering students’ global awareness. And so on…
I really like my educational leadership faculty colleagues. They’re whip-smart, thoughtful, well-meaning, and kind and are engaged in some fascinating work. I learn lots every time I get to interact with them. So maybe ‘irrelevant’ is not the right word for what we do because it sounds too pejorative. But it sure seems like there are enormous, important, gaping holes in our conversations that we educational leadership faculty decline to fill year after year…