August 16, 2017

Why big ideas fail in schools

A remarkable analysis by Michael Hobbes iin Pacific Standard who says at one point:
 This is as close as I've come to a conclusion from the two weeks I spent at Nathan Hale [high school] and the two years I spent afterwards trying to understand what I saw there: Maybe when it comes to education reform, big ideas don't matter. There will never be a structure or a technology or a method that is more powerful than the environment in which it is applied. Big ideas are, at their best or their worst, simply a mirror—an amplified or diminished reflection of the leaders, the institutions, and the people expected to carry them out.

"You have to find out what every single kid needs and get it for them. There's no shortcut that's going to make that easy," says Ms. Sarah Smith, my old history teacher. ... Now she works for Rainier Scholars, a non-governmental organization that helps low-income students make it to college. Some of her kids need tutoring, she says. Others need SAT prep, or rides to school, or warm clothes or anger management or anxiety medications. "It's never one thing—it's everything."


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