NO THERE ARE NO ‘NO EXCUSES’ SCHOOLS

This post is inspired by some recent excellent blogging by Jarlath O’Brien, Dr. Linda Graham and Greg Ashman. All three write much more fluently and purposefully than I do, nonetheless the issue of so-called ‘no excuses’ or ‘zero tolerance’ policies have been raised frequently lately and to me a it’s a very confusing area. Primarily because I tend to agree with Jarlath in that there is no such thing as ‘no excuses’ or ‘zero tolerance’ approaches in the schools that claim them. Let’s bounce, no excuses, bounce damn you!

“Gerald is your homework on my desk, it’s Monday?”

“No miss, I was pushed over on the road and my bag stolen. Mum and I have made a report at the police station, and then we went to the doctor, that’s why I’m a bit late. Did you get mum’s text?”

“I did Gerald, but that’s a detention for not handing in your home work, and another detention for being late. No Excuses!”

“But?’

“You are aware that bandage on your arm is not part of our uniform?”

“Miss please, I have stiches under the bandage, I was cut quite badly when I fell!”

“Nonetheless, Gerald that’s a third breach which of course means a mandatory two day suspension young man.”

“Yes of course miss, I just thought under the circumstances we might…..”

“Make an exception? NO EXCUSES! Now go straight to the office please”.

“Right class, lets proceed”.

“Woop woop woop”.

“Sara, calling out in class is unacceptable, detention!”

“Miss, you know Sara has Tourette’s”.

“You can join her Wyatt!”

 

Now as odd as this may sound, in this classroom the teacher is employing the ‘no excuses’ policy admirably. The point to be made is that ‘no excuses’ policies don’t really exist. What we really mean when we say that is that it’s a “some excuses’ policy. It may be a way of projecting that extremely high standards of behavior are expected, but it’s a furphy. If there are in fact schools that literally employ ‘no excuses’ policies, then they deserve to be ridiculed. If you ever find one, give me a yell.

 

Zombies Welcome?

This post was inspired by a post by @MRsalakas entitled, BEING BETWEEN PARADIGMS HAS CAUSED THE RISE OF THE EDU WALKING DEAD!  While I make no comment on the views of the blog, I did bristle when the author replied to my tweet which was “Interested in how you use evocative language to position those who don’t embrace the 21c beliefs as ‘unthinking’ others”. Brett replied that I had missed “the whole point of the need to be inclusive and bring everyone into an open discussion”.

The focus of the post is that we are ‘live in a time of transition’.  We are ‘between paradigms’. During this transition, there are some educators who have switched off. ‘The Edu Walking Dead are people who have switched off from the concept of 21st century pedagogical practice’. So we have a clear position here. If you don’t believe in the concept of 21c pedagogical practice, you are a zombie. I have no problem with this point of view, but that’s not calling for inclusivity in any fashion. It’s clearly us and clearly them.

It goes on, their ‘zombie like minds think thoughts only of Back to the basics.’ Zombie like minds? Sorry, in my opinion not the language of someone who values inclusivity in this area?  I don’t see how you hope to set up an open discussion by labeling non-believers as zombies.

‘Education nation is one of the first conferences where the Australian Education Sector can sit down and have a frank, open and honest discussion about our future direction’. If that is the goal of the conference, this blog sorely missed the mark in espousing these views. If you want frank, open honest discussion, people will need to use inclusive language, rather than polarizing divisive terms. Anything else is preaching to the converted.

If you have read this far thank you and well done.

@seminyaksunset

Joanne, Fred and the Albatross.

Joanne knocked heartily on the heavy oak doors that signaled the entrance to Fred’s house. It was quite a signal to be sure, although hopelessly out of sync with the rest of the abode. The massive green slabs almost audibly sighed when they were pushed open as if to say, “Yes I am rather grand but you will find the rest of the house doesn’t do me justice I’m afraid.” She waited a moment or two and then knocked again. She heard some rustling and then an enthusiastic “It’s open Jo!” penetrated the woodwork. She shoulder charged the doors open revealing Fred sitting at his dining table surrounded by paperwork and grinning over his laptop. “I’ve already started the graphic, lets bounce!” Ever since watching the entire series of Breaking Bad, Fred insisted on using this term that she found no less annoying than when he first started saying it.

Fred had indeed started the graphic, in fact he was nearly complete. “I’ve made a wheel with creativity and innovation at the centre and you can see the spokes coming off the centre with each spoke representing the features of an innovative slash creative classroom!” He spoke with just a hint of authority and perhaps a mild dash of arrogance. Joanne liked that about him, sure of himself but not condescending in any way. “Good stuff”, she offered, “Lets have a look then.” She scanned it for a minute or two and then glanced up at him. Fred’s face was positively glowing with pride. He was often very optimistic, overly so some might say, but she liked that about him as well. “Can I offer a suggestion?”, she said slightly nervously. “Sure, we are going to work on the accompanying blog post together, you have to have ownership as well.” Frank’s reply was less than reassuring to her. She briefly wondered why and then carried on.

You haven’t got knowledge anywhere in the wheel.” Frank stared at her blankly with the sort of look that you might see from an Apple aficionado when told by someone that they ‘Liked Windows.’ After an indeterminable heavy pause, Frank shot back a rather edgy, “What?”. “I said you don’t have knowledge on the wheel”. The air now fairly crackled with uneasiness. “Well no”, retorted Frank, “Why would it be there?” “What do you mean?” puzzled Joanne, genuinely miffed by his question. “Why”, he was muttering now. Not a muttering that suggested he didn’t know what was about to come, but rather a sort of impatience for having to explain such an obvious answer, “would I put knowledge there, we all know that facts are useless on their own”. “Is that what knowledge is?” mused Joanne. His vague air of arrogance was now oddly becoming more irritating by the second.

There was a shattering cacophony of dead silence as the two friends mulled over each others statements. Joanne had always found it interesting that some called absolute quiet, ‘dead silence’. To her it seemed that silence in a terse situation was positively alive with possibility and nervousness. This was one such occasion. “Look”, said Fred almost apologetically, “I’ve got some brilliant stuff here, “There’s”, he paused for effect, “Allowing personalities to shine, joining two ideas together to make one, expressing yourself freely, encouraging collaboration, trusting your instincts and divergent thinking.” Joanne sighed. It was the sort of sigh you hear from people when they hear the “Your call is important to us” recording while on endless hold with a business that haven’t the foggiest idea about true customer care. “It’s just that….”. “It’s just that what?” moaned Frank. “Why do you have to be so negative all the time?”

Joanne stared wearily at the pictures on the wall while working up to her reply. She loved his black and white photos of the pyramids at dusk. Very creative she thought. Frank knew so much about photography; her images were positively amateur compared to his work. She breathed in heavily and said less than forcefully, “I just thought seeing it’s the foundation, knowledge that is, and that it should get a mention is all”. “You just don’t get it Jo do you?” retorted Frank his eyes widening. “No, no I don’t”, Joanne replied, her voice trailing away as though all the authority had been ripped away from her words and squashed like a tiny bug on the concrete.

Fancy some lunch then?”. Franks upbeat question lightened the mood considerably. “We’ll work on the blog after that, my PLN will love this stuff, must stay connected you know!”. Joanne watched him saunter towards the kitchen. She did feel very connected at that moment, like an albatross with an anvil connected to its leg.

If you have read this far thank you and well done. No seriously, thank you.

@seminyaksunset