A new year’s resolution to seek solutions, not blame.

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Educational transformation requires everyone putting forth their best thinking to solve problems heretofore left unsolved.  We certainly have enough challenges to go around so everyone can be a part of the solution.

So why do so many involved in the education transformation effort critical of others’ work?  Why do we assign sinister motives to people we disagree with?  Why do so many just sit on the sidelines and point out where others are not succeeding perfectly?

For too long we have all been suspicious of other people’s efforts to make education better.  Business people blame educators whenever their workforce doesn’t measure up.  Legislators complain about educators when their schools aren’t perfect performers.  Educators blame parents and students for failure.  Parents blame schools.  Everyone blames poverty.  The common theme is a focus on blame.

What if we each realized the problem wasn’t cause for blame, but a reason to seek new approaches…to see the problem as a giant, complex jigsaw puzzle.  No one blames anyone when they open a new jigsaw puzzle.   They begin to cooperatively to find where each piece fits.  They start with edge pieces and work their way through.  Everyone involved tries to find a part of the solution.  They don’t ridicule when failure occurs, they just keep trying. 

Peter Senge in his book, The Fifth Discipline, describes a series of organizational learning disabilities.  These disabilities prevent individual and organizational learning and growth.  A prominent one in education is “The enemy is out there.”  When we can blame someone else for our problems, we don’t need to change or learn.  When someone says “Those kids can’t learn!”, they are exhibiting the learning disability “The enemy is out there.”  They blame the kids and don’t see any reason to change. 

What if we said, “We don’t know how to teach those kids, yet!”  Now we take control of our own reaction and begin the task to find solutions.  No blame, no sinister assumptions, no complaining about someone else.  We start to seek solutions within our control.

 We will all be afflicted with the disability “The enemy is out there” during 2018.  But what if we made a conscious effort to seek solutions within our control instead of blaming?  We would make a greater difference for students.  If you catch yourself moving from disability to action, let me know how you did it.  I’ll share anything I receive in future blogs.

Happy New Year!

Robert Sommers