A Reader Writes… (The Problem with Programs)

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We got a little side tracked with the start of school (duh…), so let’s circle back to a conversation that started last week, but didn’t get finished. A reader follows up with this comment to, “The Problem with Programs.”

“This is an interesting post because I actually discuss this issue in a piece I am working on.

I have never seen a school “program” itself to success. I have seen successful schools with programs, but the programs are not the cause of the success. The idea that mimicking the programs of a successful school will make your school successful is ridiculous, but that is exactly how programs are marketed.

As Cain says, a common reason for programs is to prop up a weak system. I suspect that the reason administrators want to prop up weak systems rather than to fix them is either due to ignorance or a lack of courage to take on tough tasks. If the problem is lack of courage, you need some new administrators. If the issue is ignorance, keep working with Lead Your School.”

SC Response
I was having a conversation earlier this week with a friend, that also touched on this issue. Both of us want our teachers and our students to have cutting edge tools and technology in order to create exciting and engaging instruction and classrooms. But we are both painfully aware that “sizzle” does not create critical thinkers on a massive scale. Creating huge numbers of students who are critical thinkers requires the “steak” of quality, first line instruction – day in and day out.

The model I believe in and work to build in LYS campuses and districts is grounded in Marine Corp doctrine. The Marine Corp operates under the tenet that every marine is a rifleman. This means that every high tech tool and weapon that they purchase must improve the effectiveness of the rifleman. But most importantly, they all keep training as riflemen. That way, as equipment fails or is unavailable, the individual marine is still formidable and effective.

The school version of Marine Corp doctrine is that every education professional is a teacher. We are all trained in and practice the fundamentals of instruction. Every tool and program should be evaluated in terms of how it improves the quality of instruction. But we can not abandon our core. If a computer crashes, the power goes out, or the text book does not arrive, we have to step up to the chalk board and teach with passion, skill, and effectiveness. The student should not even be aware that we are operating under “Plan B.”

The day the program replaces the teacher is the day we no longer need teachers. The day we no longer need teachers is the day we no longer need schools. If that day occurs, shame on us.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…

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