Beyond the Blame

It’s an increasingly sickening trend in our school system: blame. Colleges blame high schools for not giving students the skills they need; high schools blame the middle schools;  middle schools blame the elementary schools; elementary schools blame the preschools. Parents, on the other hand,  blame the teachers. Teachers, in turn, blame the parents.  The state blames the districts. The districts blame the school administrators. School administrators blame their teachers. Teachers blame their students. 

This blame game is a never-ending cycle with countless scenarios. 

We can pour over data all day long. We can try to pinpoint the problem because it’s reasonable to assume there is just one problem that can be fixed. Or, at least that’s what the powers that be would have us believe.  What they often fail to factor into the equation is the human element behind the numbers. It’s just easier to point fingers and demand the issue gets fixed — and fast. 

Someone has got to stand up and cry, “Enough!” 

We have got to stop finding fault and instead search for solutions. 

Rest assured, the solutions do not lie in the strategy, methodology, or taxonomy du jour. It’s not that simple. Students aren’t that easy. Their preferences, situations, and experiences are as unique as their DNA makeup. 

Our focus must change. When it becomes about relationships and discovery, there’s no need to lay blame. All parties are invested and take responsibility. And while we do want the optimal score or higher grade, at the core is the desire to be successful and understood. Unfortunately, we are so busy trying to be heard, we are missing opportunities to listen to the rest of the stakeholders.  Misunderstandings blossom in this environment, and the blame begins. 

Here’s a suggestion to get started:  Ditch the quantitative data, if even for just a moment. Take some time to analyze the qualitative data. This is where the golden ticket is hiding, underneath the mountain of emotions, the likes and dislikes, the hopes and fears of the individual students. 

The real art of teaching and the process of learning are less about scores and benchmarks and more about relationships and discovery. Teachers know this. Most likely, they are spending a lot of time trying to gather this important information as they also juggle increasing professional demands and endless quantitative data meetings, so please stop blaming them. 

In fact, let’s just stop blaming anyone at all. Instead, let’s be the village we all know it takes to raise a child. Kids deserve the collective support of every adult in their lives. And, sometimes, we just have to pick up the slack for other adults in the tribe.