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Saturday, January 21, 2012 :: Reformers® love their label but people with other views seem to need some help with labels.
I propose Post-Reformer® to umbrella all views…and even include Reformers.
Reformers are a group of people seeking a package of changes to how we do education in this country. They are capable of only working in dichotomies and can’t accept multiple solutions, hence the need for an umbrella term for everyone else. Reformers are stuck in a turn of the (20th) century industrial era style logic loop. Reformers insist there is a single package of free-market solutions to "fixing" education. Reformers want to extend the industrial trappings of public education; top-down management, efficiency benchmarks, and refining work to the tiniest task possible. You can literally hear the banging of the standardized steel plate being fastened to a kid's head by teachers who are being checked by a foreman. The only "advancement" a Reformer has accepted is including technology to improve management and the development of benchmarks. The name “Reformer” wreaks of a Mad Men slogan for selling rehashed and stale product. The name Reformer, implies new and bold. This is why it is a genius label for selling old, tired and failed.
Post-Reformers believe problems can have multiple antecedents and multiple solutions. Post reformers place a primacy on collaboration towards a goal utilizing (not just respecting) everyone’s backgrounds and talents. Because Post-Reformers are broad (no pun intended) coalitions, they will contradict each other at times. To the Post-Reformer contradictions are relished.
A large part of the disconnect Post-Reformers experience when first meeting a Reformer is that each is operating in a different era and think with different philosophies. Reformers’ lust for technocratic bell curves and value added models remind me of phrenology and eugenics from the 1900s. There often is value in a passion for data, legalese, working-papers, and astoturfing. The challenge for the Post-Reformer is to dig deeply for these nuggets of value.
Here are a few ways the Post-Reformer can bring a Reformer on board. A Post-Reformer should never reject a Reformer, they to belong under the umbrella and should always be respected. Ask a Reformer to bring their legalese to help you draft Board Resolutions or their astroturfing skills to engage parents. Reformers need to feel ‘new’ and current while staying in the comforts of their old philosophy, often using email. Despite the Reformer’s need to feel new Facebook and blogs are not yet for Reformers. Reformers need rules and a clear vision of a miniature utopia that they hope will scale to the whole world, focusing on making the miniature world is another great place to engage Reformers.
The real challenge is when the Reformer meets the Post-Reformer. Because Reformers spend so much time building walls to define themselves, Post-Reformers should be patient as they explore these new ways of dealing with people. Post-Reformers have different views and do not speak a single set of ideas. For Reformers to accept Post-Reformers, they need to accept that conflicting ideas can still make sense and are worth listening too, or at least don't dismiss Post-Reformers for having conflicting ideas. Reformers will need to accept that not everything is a dichotomy nor is every disagreement worth a "for us or against us" mentality Reformers will need to accept that people can and will work toward a common goal and that laws and contracts are not a means to making people do things.
Post-Post-Reformers educate children regardless of policy and don't care about wonk ideas. A good pseudonym for the Post-Post-Reformer is “Teacher.”