Are We Authentically Narrating the Story?

A Roberts 770X reel to reel recorder like the one that was used on Christmas Day in my house

I’m writing this the day after Christmas, 2017. Yesterday I reflected on this past year as we gave thanks, ate, and laughed together while donning our familiar Christmas Day customs.

Earlier in the morning, I found an audio recording that my late father made of Christmas Day, 1980. After I pressed play,  I laughed right away when my father spoke right into the microphone and said, “Christmas 1980”, in a less than authentic sounding tone. What happened after that in our house was not quite authentic at first because we knew we were being recorded. He continued to announce what was happening, “Oh there goes the telephone!”  By the time my sister, brother-in-law, and one year old niece arrived, we had completely forgotten about the recording and started acting like our normal selves.

While I listened to the clip, I mentally made note that YES, Christmas WAS as good as I remembered. The Christmas memories made with the Roberts reel to reel tape recorder (pictured above left) are priceless to me today.

While this blog is typically about learning, I’ll try to tie that in now. I am following Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon‘s Change School movement and listen to their Modern Learner’s podcast. Their latest episode deals with the vocabulary that we are using in education and how words we use DO matter. How ARE we narrating our story? Is it authentic? Do we give lip service to progressive ideas about learning but then go back to our old ideas when no one is hearing us anymore?  Are we putting on a show for the recorder (social media)?

Are we encouraging student choice, voice and agency? Or are we “covering the curriculum” instead of encouraging conditions by which students WANT to think critically about solving problems in our world? Granted, it’s hard to work against a system stacked squarely against what educators think is best for kids but actions speak louder than words.

Change cannot happen overnight, but I’d rather everyone at the table be real about what is really happening in our schools. While we yearn for students to exhibit higher order thinking skills and agency in their own learning, we all need to stop creating a false narrative that students will “obtain 21st Century skills” while perpetuating a school system that has largely stayed the same for over 100 years.

As stated on the Change.School website, “Long-term, relevant, sustainable change requires you to thoroughly reimagine what schools are and what they must become, not just tinker on the edges.” Change is hard. It can be done but it cannot be done ALONE. We all need to collaborate and be on the same page to make it happen. Will you join me?What will you do to take the first step? I’ll be pondering this over the next few days in time to make some New Years resolutions.

 

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