Saturday, November 17, 2012

Do Schools Simply Sort or do They Transform?

Photo Credit: tarotasic

I was listening to a recent podcast by Russ Roberts at Econtalk in which he postulated that  schools serve  either as sorting institutions or transforming institutions.  That got me thinking about my approach to students, learning, growth, and potential in my school.  So, what are the characteristics of a school that is transforming compared to one that is simply sorts and categorizes?   Here are seven characteristics of a transforming school compared to a sorting school.

  1. Transforming schools have incorporated the growth mindset while sorting schools are living out the fixed mindset.  
  2. Transforming schools welcome all students with open arms while sorting schools look to weed out challenging students through direct or indirect means.
  3. Transforming schools focus on student strengths, aptitudes, and interests while sorting schools focus on students deficiencies, deficits, and failings.
  4. Transforming schools celebrate every student for their growth, special talents, and abilities, while sorting schools celebrate only the to achieving students who meet the highest criteria.
  5. Transforming schools are filled with optimism especially for students who struggle the most, while sorting schools blame and criticize those students without the hope of remedy or improvement.
  6. Transforming schools marshal all resources and attempt every method to assist Not-Yet-Proficient students reach their goals, while sorting schools resign those students to perpetual low achievement.
  7. Transforming schools build relationships with families as co-teachers, while sorting schools ostracize and criticize families that don't live up their expectations.

So, what do you think?

What are other elements of transforming schools compared to sorting schools?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I was on a walk this past Sunday and was listening to that very same podcast. I lost my step for a second when I heard the comment about schools being sorting institutions since it conflicts with my view as an educator and educational leader. You see I believe in the potential of every child, parent and teacher and the ability for all of us to get better every day. Transforming schools foster a culture of perseverance and resiliency while sorting schools accept mediocrity. As educators we have a moral obligation to help others find their best self and realize themselves as productive and contributing members of society. This only happens with an understanding that we are life-long learners and are on a continuous journey of self-discovery.