Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rant: "Well, Yeah, But You're Not Gonna Win That Fight."

One of my teachers actually said that to me. Someone who is meant to be teaching students how to deal with the world actually said that if it looks like you might not win, you should stop trying.

The set-up was that this generation is over-tested. Everyone agreed. Then, to continue the conversation, I said that I thought we were also being given too much homework in elementary school.

(As a brief aside, no one present had any connection to elementary school teachers, so none of this was a personal attack nor could it be construed as such. Well, it could, but you can also say, "Hitler liked puppies!")

She agreed with me that we were over-homeworked. She did not have any reservations there, she just flat-out agreed. Then...well, see title. She said I was not going to win because everyone has always been over-homeworked, in her own words, "Every generation has had seven hours of homework."

I stared at her for a beat. She had just said, in front of her entire classroom, the people under her authority, that she believed something bad should not be stopped because it has been going on for too long. This is a bad idea for two reasons. 1) "Don't fight if the odds are against you" kills just about every major human achievement. Why should we change? Because new ways are, occasionally, better. And the, "It's tradition" argument is always wrong. It may be more efficient, easier, people may be more comfortable...but those are the arguments. Not some random thing about how it was good enough for my thirty-times-great grandfather and so it's good enough for me. 2) If the amount of time the policy has been in place is the thing that is messing people up, then adding more time to the equation is not going to help.

Forget tradition. If someone else has a good idea, listen to it, and if you have time debate, then that's probably a good idea. But the fact that it was good yesterday doesn't mean it's good today. It just means it was good yesterday.

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