I recently was listening to a radio talk show where the host was interviewing a guest who was an expert on the revolutions. He had studied many historical revolutions and noted some interesting similarities between virtually all revolutions. He noted that revolutionaries went after the head of the government and toppled the government from the outside in. Though a revolution might be successful, they often don’t make the plight of the people any better. Often a tyrant is replaced by another tyrant and the people still suffer.
The guest then went on to discuss how transformation is a different sort of change. He talked about how transformation starts as a grass roots movement, which grows from the inside out, one person at a time. It doesn’t rely on top down dictates, but rather individuals making choices, which create change for the greater good.
As I listened to him talk I began to think about the state of American education and especially how educational reform has been done recently. I see the words revolution and transformation as especially poignant in the world of education.
We have heard that our schools are in “crisis” and that we need a revolution. We have had revolutionaries come from on “high” and tell us how to educate our children. This is illustrated in the No Child Left Behind Act. It is illustrated in the crazy emphasis in our society on standardized tests, which has crippled many schools and, at least in my informed opinion, really done damage to our students and schools by creating a teach to the test mentality which is unhealthy and isn’t sound educational practice. I’m all for accountability, but the way it is being implemented is not working.
So I will argue that instead of revolution, we need transformation. Change must come from the inside. I happens one school at a time, one teacher at a time, and yes, one student at a time. It will happen best when one teacher decides to do what is best for her students as she personalizes the learning for every child in her class.
Flipped learning is transformational shift which is changing classrooms across the globe. I have seen teachers burned out who were ready to leave the profession get a renewed sense of purpose. I have seen students who were unsuccessful take ownership for their learning. I have seen other students who are over-stressed because of crazy-high expectations relax and enjoy learning. I have seen schools transformed as they embrace flipped learning. I have even seen parents transformed as they have rediscovered the love of learning as they learn alongside their children.
What we need in in today’s educational system is transformation, not revolution.