Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Accepting defeat

Wired.com has a good series right now on failure. I've been stuck contemplating this article by Jonah Lehrer. He's written a couple really fascinating books on the brain. His piece is on how scientists deal, or don't deal, with failure. Here's a quote I've been kicking around in my head:

The lesson is that not all data is created equal in our mind’s eye: When it comes to interpreting our experiments, we see what we want to see and disregard the rest. The physics students, for instance, didn’t watch the video and wonder whether Galileo might be wrong. Instead, they put their trust in theory, tuning out whatever it couldn’t explain. Belief, in other words, is a kind of blindness.
What beliefs are blinding me?

I've been working on school reform of assessment practices for awhile now. I keep getting stuck on that belief that teachers aren't buying in because they're those kinds of teachers that resist any change or maybe they're just bad teachers. I interpret every response in that way. I need to take a step back and have those difficult conversations. To paraphrase Susan Brookhart, when I listen I need to stop evaluating and start interpreting. What is it that the teachers at my school really need? What is really holding them back?

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