I push my students to question information that is "fed" to them and to listen to the weight of their own voices, yet I often find myself a hypocrite in this regard. After returning from England, I have found myself increasingly critical of American culture...I find myself sucked into a system that values the neatness and ease of homogeneity over the messy authenticity of individualism.I think it's always been difficult to meet the needs of individuals in our industrial age, assembly line system of education - where anything outside the norm is dismissed in the name of efficiency. Teachers have always tried to meet the individual needs of their students - some with more success than others - but for all but an exceptional few the system eventually reigns them in. It just wasn't designed to meet those needs.
But I think that's changing - with a helping hand from technology. So much of what we are talking about in this staff development is just that - how best to meet the needs of all our students - and how to use technology (where appropriate) to help do that. And I'm not talking about No Child Left Behind - trying to get them to some artificially constructed benchmark that indicates "proficiency." I'm talking about really meeting their needs - even if their needs don't always mesh perfectly with standards or CSAP or NCLB.
Let me say this one more time - it's their education, not ours. Let's continue to ask ourselves the question: "What's best for our students?" The real, live, flesh and blood students that are in our classrooms right now, today. If we use that question to frame what we do each day, then I think we're doing our jobs correctly. If we too often find ourselves doing things to meet somebody else's needs, then I think we're failing.