So focused on the past that we ignore the present and the future

It’s said that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. But is it possible that school, by its very nature, is so focused on the past that it’s condemned to ignore the present and the future? Is “backwards planning” a stunningly apropos description?

Karl Fisch via

One Response to “So focused on the past that we ignore the present and the future”

  1. I don’t think that schools are too focused on the past that causes the rigidity, it is that so much of the structure of public education has dependencies that need consideration that make changes extremely challenging.

    People usually just don’t see or understand this and they label public schools as something else: Stubborn, lack of leadership, ….

    The simplest and most clear cut examples can be found in things that just don’t make sense when look at them. The school calendar is an easy one. Probably one of the dumbest and easiest-to-change structures in public education, yet largely, it remains.

    Is it that people think it is a necessary component of anything – no. The issue is that it intersects with day care, tradition, law-makers, state laws, people who use high school students for labor in the summer, vacations, …

    How about the A,B,C,D,F grading sytem – it conveys nearly nothing about academic progress in an unambiguous manner – it is almost silly. Why don’t we just toss it out since we are not neanderthals and certainly we can do better at telling people what children are and are not capable of doing or knowing? It remains largely because it interacts with other systems (parental expectations, colleges, …)

    Lastly, another large component of the issue is that the people inside the system are only one group that influence what schools should change – there are a myriad of others and some with competing visions. What do you get if you have 12 people tell a child what to do at once as well as present competing messages – you get inaction.

    It is simple to see, but really, really, really difficult to figure out.

    Where has it been figured out – schools that can cut ties and be really different, or start over, or where situations are so desperate that the noise can be cut off (think Harlem Children’s Zone).

Leave a Reply