Denisha Jones: When All Else Fails, Save Childhood

By dianeravitch

Denisha Jones, a professor of early childhood education at Trinity Washington University, gave this talk at Sarah Lawrence College this past summer. Please read her talk in her entirety.

An excerpt:

I inspire my teachers—regardless of the label they give themselves—to be advocates or activists for their profession. I don’t want them to spend the next several years in survival mode until they burn out and leave the field altogether. Advocacy and activism serve as nourishment for the soul. They can sustain you even when things look bleak and the future is uncertain.

As I move forward, determined to protect public education as a right, what drives me is the acceptance of our failure. I am ready to declare our efforts, and the efforts of those who came before me, as failures. This may seem harsh, but as we know, failure is essential for success. “Failure is instructive,” John Dewey once said, “The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.”

We know that protecting children from the experience of failure is not good for their development. Failure can be a tool for learning how to get it right. Without failure, how do we know that we have even really succeeded? This doesn’t mean that education activists haven’t won some important battles. But they’ve tended to benefit one school or one community, and haven’t reached the national or state levels. Our attempts to stop the spread of the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) have failed.

Before we examine our failures more closely, I want to quickly review what I mean by GERM so that we are all on the same page. Pasi Sahlberg notes that the movement emerged in the 1980s and consists of five global features: standardization; focus on …read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core