Stop talking about classrooms that don’t work

This morning I read a thoughtful post about what ADD may or may not be. Despite the timeliness and depth of thought present in the article, I was stricken by one paragraph about the perils of classrooms on our children. How our young children today, so rife with creative potential, are doomed to a future of diagnosis and boredom because they will be subjected to school.

I was not only stricken but insulted.

Does all of the work that I and many of my colleagues have done over the past years have no bearing on the future of education? Do all of those teachers out there in schools all over the world who care about their children not count?

I feel we need to get beyond the system is broken kind of thinking and focus on what is working. We see what we look for and if we keep focusing on a broken system we will only succeed in creating more broken system.

Instead of creating a doomsday effect by telling ominous stories of the proliferation of ‘traditional’ classrooms that stifle creativity and connectivity, I prefer to point towards learning that does the opposite, learning that works and educators who ‘get it’.

George Couros
Michael Doyle
Lori Centerbar
Kevin Hodgson
Glenn Moses
Linda Clinton
Elona Hartjes
Darren Kuropatwa
Kelly Hines
Karen S.
Dea Conrad-Curry
Zac Chase
Angela Maiers
Chris Lehmann
Jose Vilson
Damian Bariexca
J. M. Holland


You get the point. There are good educators who foster good learning in good classrooms in good schools. I keep this in mind as I work towards hope for the future within (and without) the walls of my own school.


  • Lori Centerbar says:

    Hi Tracy!

    Imagine my surprise and honor to see my name on this list! Thank you!

  • Jose says:

    Well, thanks for the mention. This testing movement, unfortunately, will not blow over until teachers fight back in their own way.

  • Thanks for mentioning me in this post :) I am really glad that someone agrees with me about being more positive and proactive on how things are going to be great in education as opposed to how they are all wrong. Yes there are things wrong in education but dwelling on them only deflates our efforts to improve. If we think positively, great things will happen.

    Thanks again!

    • Tracy says:

      @George Couros, I find proverbs, words inspiring. Here are some that I remember to keep moving towards the future:

      Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you (Maori proverb)

      We can only give 2 things to our children: roots and wings (Jewish proverb)

      Being conscious of what we are rooting in our children to help them fly is the core of what we do. It needs to be steeped in hope, not disaster!

      • @Tracy,

        Hi Tracy!

        Great post! I am honored to be included in the conversation.

        I understand the fine line we hold between moving the conversation forward, which includes reflecting on “what has not worked”, and inspiring the new visions of what works. As you so passionately pointed out, the future depends on the stories we tell.

        You and this great list of leaders remind me everyday that the future is bright, it is exciting, and full of opportunity for new stores to emerge.

        Each story we tell MUST include the elements Kathleen Cushman refers to as WKCD! What Kids Can Do, and what I call WTCD-What Teachers Can Do!

        If we need more examples, check this out:

        Let these(and your/your students) stories spread!

        • Tracy says:

          @Angela Maiers, thanks for the link to the website, Angela. I hadn’t hear about What Kids Can Do before.

          Do we really need to reflect on what has not worked? What if we focused our energy on reflecting on what HAS worked and DOES work?

  • Dear Tracy–
    Your passion for teaching and learning evokes an image in my mind–of you at the keyboard, intense and focused on shaping feelings and intellect into words and phrases that convey with clarity the position you hold–I feel it and so must every other reader of your blog! Thank you for sharing in the “hope for the future”–the hope that learning can bring a new vision of potentiality to teachers and their students alike!!

  • Tracy says:

    As I wrote on your blog, it is (so much) more than optimism. It is creating a future worthy of our children. I can only do that by focusing on what works, not by what doesn’t.

  • Tracy says:

    “It’s not that any of the good work isn’t recognized, it’s just that it isn’t enough.”

    You are right, Or-Tal. It isn’t enough when people prefer to focus on what needs to change rather than what works.

    There is so much wasted energy put on locating and telling stories of what is broken. I choose to put my energy into telling and listening to stories of what works.

    “…we are responsible not only for the stories we tell and the stories we listen to, but for the stories we choose to believe.” Thomas King

  • Hi Tracy,
    Thanks for your comment on my blog post :)
    It’s not that any of the good work isn’t recognized, it’s just that it isn’t enough.
    The majority of cases is different.
    I’ve read another blog post and watch an amazing youtube of this valedictorian speech. Listen to her. Read it. It’s heartbreaking:
    “The majority of students are put through the same brainwashing techniques in order to create a complacent labor force working in the interests of large corporations and secretive government, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of it. I will never be able to turn back these 18 years. I can’t run away to another country with an education system meant to enlighten rather than condition. This part of my life is over, and I want to make sure that no other child will have his or her potential suppressed by powers meant to exploit and control.”
    And that’s a Valedictorian speaking. An 18 year old girl.
    I’ll be happy if you join the discussion on this here:
    There’s so much that we can do. We have to speak up and make the system change, not just changes in the system.

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