Education Article and Mini Rant: Education Needs More Tempered Radicals

Education Week's article "Education Needs More Tempered Radicals" examines the need for education reform but highlights the potential pitfalls that will exist with any change when forgetting that not all educators serve the same role.

As the article defines the term:

"Tempered radicals are people who operate on the fault line. They are organizational insiders who contribute and succeed in their jobs. At the same time, they are treated as outsiders because they represent ideals or agendas that are somehow at odds with the dominant culture"(2003. Meyerson. P.5)."

It is important to consider that too often educators are over generalized into a few different camps - as the article explains in another excerpt from their Common Ground series:

Finding Common Ground"Working in any system is complicated, especially one that has been as well-established as the public education system. There are those educators who are happy entering school every day following the same plans that they have for years, and they like being told what to do. They don't question their surroundings and want to "just" teach their students. This does not make them bad educators; it just makes them happy with the status quo. These educators still help students succeed and don't see the point in fighting everything happening top-down. The reality is that slashing and burning is not going to happen in our present system, and it shouldn't because there is a lot of goodness within the public school system that is effective with students..."

Educators exist in a world that is constantly being changed yet at the same time staying too much like the past. Companies, speakers, and school leaders are constantly changing and each time a new one enters they have repackaged ideas under a new vernacular buzz word - one course of action may only be followed for a year or two before it is trashed and a recycled concept under a new name is brought in as the savior. Too many educators therefore just come in and follow orders realizing that in a few months or possibly a year or two things will simply change again.

Nearly all teachers want to help students learn - the pay compared to the time spent in the classroom makes other motivations much less feasible - and as the article states "Education needs all of these stakeholders in order to improve it. There needs to be rule followers who will follow along and the extreme radicals who will fight hard to help change the status quo. However, education also needs tempered radicals who have the perspective of being on the inside and knowing what needs to change to make things better."

I found this article thought provoking and worth a read.

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