A declaration that we should train students to be "leaders" is either a way of saying they should be in charge of everyone else (which is disturbing) or a way of saying nothing at all (because words apparently can be defined to mean whatever we choose)
One critical (but rarely discussed) barrier to making education more progressive has to do with hidden beliefs - about learning, motivation, and even human nature - that need to be brought to the surface. And then there's the matter of whether what we do is aligned with what we say is important...
Sit in a school auditorium listening to a list of rules and procedures, on the one hand, and numbing banalities about how "all children can learn," on the other hand -- and dream of a presentation that gets to the heart of what schooling could be like if kids (and learning) really mattered most...
Is happiness really what we want most for our kids? Should we question "higher expectations" as a slogan for school reform? Is it time to rethink responses like "Good job!" and "Ooh, you're so close!"?
Is it possible that "managing" the classroom -- that is, controlling the students -- isn't always done in order to facilitate teaching but instead has become (for some educators) the ultimate goal, with the academic content chosen to achieve that goal?
The opposite of self-centeredness goes way beyond the Golden Rule. It's the capacity to imagine someone else's point of view. Fortunately, there are practical strategies for helping children to acquire that skill.
Having students think about what they're going to learn (ahead of time), and then talk about what they did learn (afterwards), really helps. And one classic version of this technique offers a radical challenge to traditional education...
It may seem a matter of hard-headed realism to emphasize "enlightened self-interest" (rather than altruism) in our efforts to promote individual acts of caring or to justify spending public funds to address infant mortality or spousal abuse. But this approach, just like rewarding children when they do nice things, is counterproductive over the long haul.
When kids create their own meaningful projects, the learning is personal.
When kids are fed prefabricated skills and constantly tested (via computer), the learning is "personalized."
The latter is profitable for corporations, but not so great for our children.