Chaos vs Coherent

My Superintendent last week:

“I’ve learned that there is a fine line between chaos and coherent.”

This statement has been replaying itself in my head now for a week. Maybe because I’m feeling my life is on the chaotic side of that line at the moment.

However, I’ve also been reflecting at where we are in education and where we are trying to go. Where does education fall on this line?

What I’m afraid of is that education is too much on the coherent side of that line, although we are trying to push the education system as a whole closer to that line in the use of information, data analysis, and accountability. The problem is it’s a large system that likes coherent, is comfortable with coherent, and looks at the line and really doesn’t want to go there.

The line is the different between controlling everything and having structures in place that allow a system to be flexible. Standards are structures that allow an educator to walk on that line. To be able to look at new ways of teaching, new ways of assessing, and new ways at engaging student’s in the learning process and still stay grounded in understanding what it is that needs to be taught.

Most standardized tests control what we teach, and how we teach it based on what content is needed in order to do well. Standardized tests doesn’t allow a teacher to walk on the side of chaos in fear that what they might teach, what may be a different way of learning, will not be acceptable when filling in circles.
A little chaos is a good thing; it is where we learn to take risks, where perhaps our best learning occurs. These past couple of weeks I’ve been on that side, and my brain actually hurts from such a steep learning curve. I don’t want to be on this side of the line for much longer. I need a little coherence in my life, a little more structure.

I think this is where are classrooms need to be. We need to walk that line between chaos and coherent. I sometimes hear teachers refer to this as ‘controlled chaos’ which sounds pretty good to me. When I taught in the classroom I tried to keep my class in that controlled chaos state. This is where we learn, where we are able to push ourselves and the people around us and still understand there is a structure to what we do.

What would education look like if it were in a state of controlled chaos?

What would a school look like?

How would you put structures in place to allow educators to feel safe enough to teach in this space?

I’ve got some thinking to do.

[tags]21st Century Learning, chaos vs coherent[/tags]

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