WARNING: the following response could be seen as a rant. It probably is.
I read the Cochran-Smith & Lytle article with some trepidation. One of the hard things about being a teacher-librarian in 2013 is that I expect any day now that some policymaker is going to make me redundant. Ouch. So when I read this quote about the latest developments in Core Curriculum making and standardized testing, I actually felt reassured:
Part of what these developments have in common is a set of underlying assumptions about school change that de-emphasizes differences in local contexts, de-emphasizes the construction of local knowledge in and by school communities, and de-emphasizes the role of the teacher as decision maker and change agent. (Cochran-Smith and Lytle, 1999, p. 22).
That paragraph could have been written yesterday and still had as much impact! Here we are 14 years later still battling to be treated as professionals or at least to be taken seriously…losing the battle to locally develop solutions for our students. I know I’m atypical, but people ask me all the time why I’m doing my M.Ed. now….there’s no financial advantage, I don’t dream of being a principal or superintendent…I love learning. I research because I want to know more about how to solve systemic problems that are preventing students from achieving better results. I read this paragraph out loud to my husband this morning saying that I feel sometimes that being a teacher-librarian and an agent of change is like painting a big target on my back and I do sometimes feel like retreating back into an autonomous classroom. But now that the veil has been lifted, and I can see clearly the larger perspective of how many compromises we’re making in public education at the expense of our students, I can’t go back. I can’t stop trying to be heard. I only hope that through research and my own discovery that my voice will somehow become more valid in the eyes of policymakers.
Cochran-Smith, M., & Lytle, S. L. (1999). The teacher research movement: A decade later. Educational researcher, 28(7), 15-25.
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No glimmers of hope?
I think real change takes real time. Maybe I’m being naive, over-optimistic or even stupid, but I have only been teaching 10 years, and in that time I have seen change. The cool thing is that as years go by, those changes get bigger and bigger.
Keep fighting the good fight.
I don’t think you’re any of the above, but I am finding it really hard to hold onto my normally optimistic train of thought right now. Your support means so much. Knowing that there are others out there who feel the same way keeps me going.
Alanna, very well said. You have stated the same ideas as I recently did in a letter to our Minister of a education. This is a challenging time to be in education due to the change. Everyone feels the pressure and stress of change whether you are working in education, a parent or student, or employers looking for specific qualities in graduates of the educational system. It is a systemic change and it is bigger than just the classroom teacher or school. Ministries and more need to be supporting this deeper and longer than they traditionally have. Thanks for the post.
I couldn’t have said it better. Let me know if you get a reply 🙂
Typo – Minister of Education