Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sensemaking through comparison

There was an OpEd article in the New York Times a while ago. It portrays the contrasts in decision making, attitudes, and actions between the treatment of military and schools in the U.S. Here is the link to the article.

I found the comparison to be a powerful reminder for all of us especially why we blame teachers on school failures.

Here is an interesting quote from the story:

WHEN we don’t get the results we want in our military endeavors, we don’t blame the soldiers. We don’t say, “It’s these lazy soldiers and their bloated benefits plans! That’s why we haven’t done better in Afghanistan!” No, if the results aren’t there, we blame the planners. We blame the generals, the secretary of defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff. No one contemplates blaming the men and women fighting every day in the trenches for little pay and scant recognition.

And yet in education we do just that. When we don’t like the way our students score on international standardized tests, we blame the teachers. When we don’t like the way particular schools perform, we blame the teachers and restrict their resources.

Compare this with our approach to our military: when results on the ground are not what we hoped, we think of ways to better support soldiers. We try to give them better tools, better weapons, better protection, better training. And when recruiting is down, we offer incentives.

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