Nearly all political discourse around so-called “school reform” misses the most important part of schooling. The charter vs. public debate, or the big vs. small debate, or the which teachers should be hired or fired debate, while important, only address the container in which learning happens. It doesn’t address the learning itself, which is the result of a relationship among students, teachers, curriculum, and assessment. While there is public dialogue around these pillars as isolated pillars, there is rarely any around what happens in the actual classrooms when they come together. You can’t just focus on one; you have to look at pedagogy, or the complex multifaceted relationship between them. Anything that doesn’t is oversimplifying an immensely complex challenge, thereby making it harder to address.
Ultimately, my decision to help open Harvest is about creating a school where a certain kind of teaching, learning, and assessment can flourish. This kind of pedagogy is captured in the Coalition of Essentials Schools Common Principles. My greatest hope for Harvest is that we’ll embody and realize them.
The piece generated a lot of interesting comment (leading it to be featured as Gotham’s “Conversation of the Week). I would encourage people to read and respectfully chime in if they so choose.