Central to Progress: Conversations

Previously in Actions Set the Standard, I discussed what should be seen as the ultimate of school reform conversations – the one that takes place between the primary adult in a child’s life and the child’s teacher. How it works out for the child depends on how well these adults can converse.

I’m afraid that art is going by the wayside. And without practice, we will not master the art of conversation and our society will suffer because we won’t be able to effectively put our heads together to solve problems.

I will be the first to admit that even after learning about some of the do’s and don’ts of dialogue and debate, I have trouble using what I know. When it comes to the topic of education reform, my passion gets in the way and I start to feel like I’m arguing instead of conversing. At those moments, I become part of the problem.

Education reform is all about a problem solving process that requires collaboration, cooperation, and the communications necessary to make those things happen.

I remember seeing a team shirt once that had the Henry Ford saying “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

Conversations are the essential glue which binds us together. Without them happening at all governing levels and in between …well, look what has happened…no child left behind? Right? Our so-called representatives have proved themselves incapable of taking the first step of coming together for the sake of this nation’s children.

When this year’s political pandering is history, we citizens need to have a serious conversation with each other and our representatives.

Essential to Reform : Cooperation/Collaboration

In addition to the word communication, we really need to consider some other very important “C” words — collaboration and cooperation — which both mean the same thing, “to work together.” Those in education circles tend to use the word “collaboration” which can also mean “working with the enemy.” And I think most of us regular folks use the word “cooperation” more often and it also has an expanded meaning, “to combine so as to produce an effect.”

Right now, our differences divide us. We can’t work together when we continue to allow barriers to stop our progress.

Anyway you look at it, working together is a proposition easier said than done probably because the basis of it goes back to communications. We struggle because of differences in our use of words, the way we interpret words, how we relate them to our experiences, our body language or lack thereof in cyberspace, and a whole host of other communications related problems. Many of these things could be clarified if we would just ask questions and converse more often.

We have to remember, it isn’t about us; it’s about them. Real education reform will only happen when we work together to do what’s best for our kids. That is the page to start on.