As a profession, and as an experience, K-12 education in the U.S. is containerized.
There are containers that represent experiences: classrooms, instruction, assessment, curriculum, bell schedule, the school year, and professional development.
It’s even possible to represent a container by using another container.
The danger of containers is that they create boundaries. Boundaries limit and establish the range of what is possible…and contribute to making things impossible.
Containers also influence how educators speak about education. The containers mentioned above frame the language of education – they represent the common vocabulary of educators. For example, the word “classroom” is used universally when describing where learning occurs. It’s also used unconsciously…it just is, that’s the place. Might thinking extend beyond the conceptualization of that as a location for learning? How does that belief, and that language, limit how educators think about what that space might become? Why does learning have to take place in a classroom?
The same is true for PD. That’s so ingrained in how educators talk about their own learning, it’s frightening. When educators learn, they learn through PD. That’s how its done. Even when new opportunities like EdCamps and Twitter chats emerge, educators quickly describe them as “the best PD I ever had.” Right into the container it goes….
If education has to have a container, it only needs one: learning.
But it’s time to move past containers and the siloed thought and practice they encourage. Education doesn’t need to get better at 1987.
The first step in doing that, in my opinion, begins with establishing a new language capable of supporting change, growth, and improvement that does not containerize thought and practice.
Education needs a new vocabulary, one that is unbounded, and one based in possibility and opportunity, optimism, and bravery.
Image: Some rights reserved, Glyn Lowe Photoworks