Thursday, January 5, 2017

Rules is rules

Process is important. We shouldn't blithely change the rules or stop following rules. People get upset when we change rules. In our school lives, policies inform practices.

Goodness, though, I find that rule following begets mindless and rigid thinking. We get stuck in a "this is how we've always done it" loop and nothing changes. The worst thing about rules is that they often do not change after their first iteration. In other words, people follow rules that are bequeathed to them. The rules were made by people no longer "in the room" for situations that no longer apply and rules which have once made sense are still followed.

If we allowed for a formal, regular processes to reflect upon and then reform or reaffirm the rules, then I'd be the first to say that they are an unqualified good. But in most institutions, we don't. Schools, churches, businesses and governments get stuck in saying, "This is how we do things here." Rules become received wisdom.

Because of a spate of fatalities early in the last century, President Roosevelt forced college football to reinvent the game by significantly changing the rules. On its own, it wouldn't have.

One of the reasons education is still fundamentally resistant to the promise of technology is because we are following rules that no longer apply.

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