I love TED Talks! I recently watched one presented by Seth Godin entitled “This is Broken.” In it, Godin shares examples, mostly from the business sector, where mistakes are obvious, yet the practice continues or the message is repeated. He provides examples such as a picture of a prescription bottle containing medicine for a dog that warns the consumer to avoid driving, operating heavy machinery, or taking the tablets with alcohol. Another image shows a street sign pointing the way to the “Secret Bunker.” Godin laments a movie theater with concession stand lines 12 deep because management needed to reduce costs, so cut workers even though 95% of profits flow directly from these purchases. In these and other examples, Godin proclaims that someone, often many people, recognized the “wrongness” of each situation, yet failed to fix the problem. A pharmacist knows that dogs do not drive, operate heavy machinery, or drink alcohol (at least not intentionally). Sign makers and installers see the irony of publicizing the location of a secret bunker. Concession stand workers and managers are fully aware that more workers would better serve eager customers.
These examples of brokenness got me thinking about the educational system and my mission to change it for the better. Because I am old, read voraciously, and have had the good fortune of observing and working with many educators and educational systems, brokenness exposes itself to me. These fissures in the system, beg me to notice them and apply epoxy. But I am the pharmacist, the street sign maker, and the concession stand worker. I don’t have the power to fix the brokenness. It’s not my job. Surely there are smarter and more powerful people whose job it is to fix the world’s wrongness. Ironically, this thinking is broken too. It should be everyone’s job to fix brokenness. Our educational system needs a lot of fixing. Don’t get me wrong. A lot of good things happen in schools, but too many of our practices actually impede learning and harm kids.
I believe the time is right for teachers to speak up, point to each element that is broken, AND find the solutions. The last part of my previous sentence is important. If we don’t find the solutions, someone else will. Policy makers, department heads, and corporate officers don’t know our students and often have disingenuous interests. I would like to propose a challenge to all teachers who read this post.
1.) Identify something in your daily work that is broken.
2.) Fix it or propose a solution to someone who has the power to fix it.
3.) Share with us in the comment section of this blog post.
Together we can fix the broken.