Arguing against a dichotomous view of the world through the use of a dichotomy:
“Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”
“Of course there is no us and them
But them they do not think the same”
Some people see the world in black and white; everything is a dichotomy. Things are right or wrong, successes or failures. Others tend to view the world as a series of continua – seeing issues as one thing or another is to oversimplify them. I have a continuum brain. Unfortunately for me, and others like me, dichotomous thinkers have currently gained ascendancy in education – an arena I feel is more suited to continuum thinkers.
One of the biggest problems with having the dichotomous folks in charge is that, while I recognize the need and value of dichotomous thinkers, they do not reciprocate. Their brains do not allow for context – either a student is successful or she is not; a teacher teaches “the right way” or he does not. I’ll be the first to state that if everyone taught like me, that would be a bad idea. But if we all drink the kool-aid and teach the way they want us to, it would be the worst idea … ever. A good faculty is comprised of variety. There is value to having me on one side of the hall and Mr. Ducks-in-a-Row on the other side.
The notion that all of us doing the same things, in the same ways – consistency – is preparing students for college and/or the workforce is absurd. I challenge you to find a group with a greater variety of styles, behaviors and expectations than college professors. Being able to quickly adapt to different professors is one of the keys to surviving college. The workplace is the same. Think of all the bosses you’ve had in your life, from after-school jobs as a teenager to now. How alike were they all? I’ve worked under four different principals so far. All have been different, emphasized different things, had wildly different personalities and expectations.
The world is not consistent. Why do we believe that consistency is the best way to prepare for it?
Public Education is messy and complicated. It is not easily boiled down to a specific set of goals or methods that apply to every student, every teacher, every class. It’s more complicated than that.