I have lived my life and served in my various roles in education following three guiding principles: truth, love and justice. I did not feel many of the proposed reform efforts met my three-way test of “Is it true, loving and just?” I did not feel the evidence to support the critics claims that education was broken and that their policies would fix it existed; therefore, these reforms did not meet the standard of truth. I did not feel their efforts were motivated by compassion and a sincere concern for our children and their proper education; therefore, not in accord with the law of love. Moreover, I did not feel their policies increased the likelihood of fairness for all people in our society; therefore, failing the criterion of justice.
In this book, we will explore the perceptions, rhetoric, assumptions and claims upon which many of these educational reforms are made, propose a new paradigm for considering education and its reform, apply that paradigm to education and its reform, discuss the relationship between schools and society and evaluate some popular reform proposals. It is my belief that you will see how many reform proposals work against what their proponents claim to be supporting and that they subvert the best interests of education and society. It is my hope that educators–given their experience, expertise, dedication, loyalty, wisdom and commitment to excellence in education–will be provided with a greater voice on these matters of vital concern to the welfare of our nation and world.
Education is the foundation of human excellence, prosperity, joy and glory. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. It is the cause of the progress of individuals and nations. It is a basic human right that should be extended to every person on earth. However, education must be reformed if it is to provide opportunities for all to realize their gifts and talents in service to humanity. To accomplish this needed requirement for the advancement of the best interests of the world, herculean effort will be required. The best and brightest must come together to find the ways and means to reach this noble, needed and lofty goal. However, we shall learn, schools alone did not cause the problems we are facing as a society, and, alone, they cannot fix them.
Can schools, teachers and teacher educators do better? They must. As conditions, circumstances and needs change, education needs to adjust to meet these new challenges. If time-honored and entrenched traditions, approaches and policies no longer work, they must be changed or be discarded. This is a challenge facing every person, community and institution in the world in this time of rapid and dramatic change.
In our efforts to improve education, it is my hope that we will be guided by the three principles of truth, love and justice. As I am recommending these standards for all involved in education and its reform, it is important that they frame what I say and how I say it in this book. Therefore, I will do my best to present my views in a thoughtful, courteous and fair manner. I continue to work on all these qualities and have much to learn, but I hope my attempts will create an opportunity for us all to develop our own individual and community sense of what is best so that we can work together for the betterment of all.
I am attached philosophically, psychologically and professionally to education and teaching, which influences my thinking, feelings and words. I am presenting what I believe is honest, caring and fair; however, I do not claim it as truth, love or justice. These are relative terms that we can negotiate together to achieve higher understanding. This book is my attempt at this stage in my development to manifest those qualities as best I can presently to examine more closely certain ideas and practices about improving education. As a result, though I am attempting to be accurate, kindly and fair, there will be statements I make that only approach these standards to the relative degree I am able at present.
In the spirit of honesty and fairness, it is important that the reader understand that I am presenting and defending my point of view in response to differing points of view that have been put forth elsewhere. I am presenting evidence to support my views to counterbalance the evidence presented by contradicting positions. Sometime we are using the same evidence to support opposing opinions. In short, I am telling my side of the story as I feel the other side has been the main message most people are getting. As a result, it may seem biased. It is, but it is in an effort to present a more balanced and informed picture of our challenges and possible solutions. In the end, you get to decide what you think and feel and how you will respond.