The One Word That Prevents Real Educational Reform From Happening
Will Richardson

For someone who is so positive about kids, you seem pretty negative about the adults they grow into. If schools are truly resisting real change because they “won’t”, then that resistance must be coming from nearly all of the individuals who work in those schools—not just the school leaders. Because if school leaders are saying “won’t”, but a small number of their teachers are saying “will”, then we would see a lot more educators breaking away to found their own schools, and schools would be much more diverse. Instead, most private and charter schools look a lot like traditional public schools.

And if educators are saying “won’t” and parents are saying “will”, do you really think that schools could hold back the tidal forces of real change? No chance. The only reason why schools don’t change is because society allows them to stay as they are. If schools are truly resisting change because they “won’t”, then the vast, vast, vast majority of educators, parents, and society members are saying “won’t” as well. Personally, I don’t believe that.

I think it is far more likely that people genuinely feel they “can’t”. You cite instances where people have overcome various “can’ts”—but those are small, superficial “can’ts” that flow from the 800-pound “can’t” in the room that we never seem to address. I haven’t seen anyone take on and overcome that 800-pound “can’t” yet, and real change won’t occur until we do.

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