Challenging basic assumptions

The following is a message from Jim Strickland, founder of ASCEND, on the Marysville ASCEND Mailing List. It is reposted here with permission from the author.

I was thinking this morning about the basic assumptions about education and learning that we take for granted.  Because these assumptions are considered “common sense”, we don’t even imagine questioning them, and this makes positive change very difficult.  Here are a few assumptions that I believe deserve to be questioned and perhaps challenged as we strive to create a new, student-centered “common sense” (some of these are from Wendy Priesnitz’s book Challenging Basic Assumptions in Education).  Love to hear your additions!

  1. Education is something that is done to you.
  2. Students are basically lazy and must be forced to learn.
  3. Liberation and empowerment are things you earn once you become an adult.
  4. Grades are necessary to motivate students and ensure learning.
  5. Other people know best what children should learn.
  6. All students should learn the same things at the same rate and standards of competence.
  7. It is the teacher’s job to make sure students learn what we want them to learn.
  8. Learning should be separate from a student’s cultural, religious, and philosophical beliefs.
  9. The purpose of school is primarily to prepare students for work.
  10. The main role of families and community members is to pass bonds and levies so schools can do their job.

These are just a few that come to mind.  I would love to discuss these further at our next meeting and think about ways to create a new, student-centered common sense about education and learning in our community!