[cross-posted at the TechLearning blog]

Do you respond to PUSH or PULL? How about your students and staff?

David posted last week about the recent discussion in North Carolina regarding raising the minimum dropout age to 18 instead of 16. Apparently students are dropping out in increasing numbers, so folks want to mandate they stay in longer. Forcing students to go to school when they don’t want to? That’s a PUSH.

In her comment to Dave’s post, Carolyn Foote responded:

I was thinking of something Marco Torres said today in his keynote at TCEA. He said that it was his job to infect kids with enough curiosity today that they would want to come back tomorrow. And that if they came back tomorrow, he wanted to give them enough curiosity to come back the rest of the week. I don’t think this is about entertainment. I think it’s about inviting students to learn, about creating an environment so compelling that they want to be a part of it. It’s not that there aren’t many excellent educators making a dedicated effort. It’s that institutionally, we aren’t inviting students in.

Creating inviting learning environments and empowering students to do interesting things? That’s a PULL.

The Center for Education Policy has determined that 22 states require students to pass a standardized test before students can graduate from high school. Most of those exams are more difficult than they were a few years ago. Making it harder for students to graduate? That’s a PUSH.

Education Week recently noted that some schools are paying students financial ‘awards’ for increased performance on assessments:

[T]he $110 is not nearly as much they could earn working after school. (It amounts to about 18 hours of work at the minimum wage in Maryland of $6.15 an hour.) But it could be enough for students to take a few days off to attend tutoring sessions.

Paying students for performance? That’s a PULL.

The National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools keeps tallies on the number of states that allow corporal punishment of students that violate school rules. In Mississippi, 8% of students were subject to physical discipline in the 2002–2003 school year. Hitting students for not following the rules? That’s a PUSH.

In Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community, Alfie Kohn discusses letting students make real choices (rather than pseudo-choices like ‘you have chosen to sit by yourself at the table’) so that they can internalize, rather than externalize, moral development and self-direction. Giving students authentic voice and opportunities to participate in meaningful decision-making? That’s a PULL.

Which of these resonate best with you: the PUSH or the PULL? What are your primary approaches to facilitating change in schools? And, more importantly, what are the preferred approaches of your audience? Because, as John Maxwell reminds us, the true measure of leadership is influence (i.e., whether you have followers or not)…

One year ago: Narrowcasting (one of my favorite posts ever!)