Meeting the Present for a Sustainable Future
There is tremendous research being conducted regarding the manner in which elementary education is framed. Many of these inquiries seek to understand the misalignment that exists across the system. While stakeholders can offer a variety of opinions on the systematic flaws that exist, qualitative and quantitative studies create a foundation to build sustainable reforms. In our view, assessing the system on a macro level will foster the questions necessary for creating a micro view of the conditions that foster inconsistencies within individual schools.
An area of inquiry that certainly peaks our interest is the notion of readiness. One might suggest that this subjective term has done much to create the asymmetry we see in public education. In a recent study, it was concluded that an overemphasized focus on preparing learners for future endeavors has blinded stakeholders to the present needs of the whole child. Moreover, it is not a stretch to suggest that arbitrary systematic demands have valued content exposure above the intrinsic passion essential for learning. When we take a step back to examine the public good, and decisions that have been rendered within the institution, we cannot help but ask—is readiness about being prepared to meet system expectations or harnessing individual growth?
What We Do Know?
Learning is about being in the moment. By simply looking back at your own experiences you begin to recognize that success was attained when you were responsive to the unique opportunities that came your way. In such spaces, it is evident that learning is about fluidity and the reciprocal exchange of ideas that spark ingenuity and innovation. Further, we know that by being ever-present the balance of internal and external communicative practices form the basis of the integrative thought that creates effective interventions. In short, if a system is grounded in resilience, patience, and dedication then individualized learning becomes a mechanism to disrupt cognitive dissonance. In time this environment evolves into a proactive set of experiences that inspire the essence of an intrinsically motivated learner.
Surprising or Disheartening?
Understanding the individual beyond the systematic structure is an approach that is well-documented as effective in building a positive and focused culture of thought. In very basic terms, educators must organize inputs, processes, and outcomes through a lens that views the individual, and not the system, as its primary concern. If we strive for engendering a consistent level of motivated thinkers, such a focus will build individual identity and be the vehicle for enhancing organizational identity. Yet despite all that is understood and accepted about best practices, it is not a consistent implementation across our sector.
As individuals who operate in an archaic system where the individual is still secondary to the bureaucracy, it is not so much surprising as it is disheartening that the answers to many of the cyclical problems faced by the institution were answered generations ago. Continually, institutional roadblocks, centered around ego, always tend to impede the cultural shifts that would be necessary to meaningfully addressing the noble charge of creating a culture of thinkers. In our experiences the fragility of ego has created an entrenched immovable set of individuals.
Amongst managers within the institution there seems to be a disconnect between that which is espoused and subsequent actions that are taken. While positivity is essential in the classroom, the asymmetry within the organizational culture has contributed to the cynicism and political division that exists within the ranks. To that end, it is not hard to understand why the system has not changed in generations. There is a wealth of evidence that suggests when positivity supersedes negative tendencies progressive systematic change is enabled. Unfortunately, instead of using the pandemic as a vehicle to reimagine the system, a lack of vision has seen a return to reactionary measures that harken back to pre-pandemic ineptitudes.
Organizational Behavior and Public Education
With a foundation in operant learning, many progressive models for organizational behavior have much to offer a reimagined view of public education. To that end, we believe there are great opportunities to use these platforms as the impetus to shift educational paradigms regarding learning in general. When well-planned and thoughtfully executed they provide the space to meet learners’ needs and function in a capacity that addresses the whole child. As such, they become a launching pad for addressing academic gaps and ultimately long term outcomes. Sadly, the institution itself has a number of variables that continue to limit such practices to window dressing and/or surface level approaches .
Inspiration begins by embracing diversity and removing the monotony of thoughtless endeavors. It is important to look at organizational behavior through the potential that exists in focusing on individual learning. Each year, we witness the power of hope when converting difficulties into learning opportunities that afford us the space to stretch goals within our respective classrooms. When young minds feel purpose, meaning is derived, and they begin to take ownership. In doing so, facilitators serve to guide, acknowledge, and challenge within a culture of thought.
While research seeks to investigate misalignment through human behavior, we can easily understand that the impact of research occurs when there is an open-minded willingness on the part of individuals to experiment, observe, and adapt the opportunities presented in such findings. Those in positions of leadership must endeavor to break from the stifling practices of the past in order to facilitate a proactive present that builds a sustainable future for all stakeholders. To date, the system has not demonstrated a readiness to meet such critical shifts. The implications of this failure are far reaching and fundamentally limit the readiness of our learners to meet their optimal potential. Thus, we are left to rely on the pockets of authentic leaders whose classrooms serve the present by affording learners the capacity to use passion as a guide to dictate the future.
Bates, A. (2019). Readiness for school, time and ethics in educational practice. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 38(4), 411-426.
Cameron, K. S. (2008). Paradox in Positive Organizational Change. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 44(1), 7-24. https://doi.org/10.1177/0021886308314703