Friday, October 1, 2010

Is There Room For More Than One Opinion Here?

Over the past few days all the talk in the edubloggersphere and on Twitter has been about the Education Nation project from NBC, the Waiting For Superman movie and on education reform in general. The topic on #Edchat this week centered around moving education reform conversations forward and many, many blog posts and conversations have centered around the topic.

It seems to me that these conversations come in waves. Yeah, many of us on Twitter and through our blogs try to talk about what isn't working or how to make things better and offer up several examples of what is working. But it seems there is this cycle of lots and lots of talk and then what seems like quiet whispering. The conversations and talk is there just not as loud...

I had a conversation this week with a good friend. We were talking about all that was happening this week and then she asked an interesting question. What if there were people (educators) that thought that some of things Rhee, Gates and Duncan were saying were actually right or might be good for Education.

We specificially talked about Rhee. She fired several hundred teachers in Washington D.C. There was a big flap about it several weeks ago. What if firing is the right thing do? What if those really were bad teachers who needed to who leave the classroom. Why would that be so bad? Perhaps the methods used were unorthodox but what if when it comes to the education of those kids, it was the right thing to do?

Or what if there are good models of charter schools out there? Why would that be bad for kids? There are plenty of examples of charters that are bad, yes. But just like we talk about examples of good schools, maybe there are examples of charters that are really making a difference in the lives of kids?

To be honest I don't know the whole history of the education reform movement. I want to know more. (If you have suggestions for books besides Ravtich, I will be glad to take them in the comments.) But I do know that in this day an age, it is tough to have an opposite opinion from the mainstream.

I think maybe there are some of us to have a tendency to leap before we look. Questioning is a good thing and we should (and have the right to) question those that are trying to tell us all of educations ills. But sometimes we hear about something (like Education Nation) and before it begins we criticize and dismiss it as bad reform. Now, what if we watched, read and listened, then took time to digest. It might not change our opinions but we might actually get this reform training moving because we will have all the information, all the facts and can have open an honest dialogue about it.

Now let me be clear. I do not think most of what NBC or Gates or anyone one of the corporate "educators" is saying is right. I do believe, however, is all sides and conversation need and deserve to be heard. And I just wonder if the "echo chamber" only has room for one type of view?

I have seen it before. People who do not agree with one particular view or opinion are sometimes publicly berated because their views are different. I just wonder if there are room for differences, even opposing views on what we all think might be best with education? I hope there are...

What do you think? Can you go on Twitter or your Blog and feel comfortable going against the mainstream? What if you agreed with Gates or Rhee or the Waiting For Superman Movie. Do you feel comfortable letting your opinion be known?

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