Although I do realize now that education is political, I never want to bring politics into this blog. Having said that, I’ve been thinking about something that currently has been crossing both these worlds, and therefore seems relevant enough to write about here. The idea of flip-flopping is what has been on my mind. In my own definition, or what I’ve come to understand based on usage, flip-flopping is the changing of your position on on an issue, topic, or action plan. Although it is tied to campaigning, and to the notion that some candidates will change their positions to garner support from certain groups, I think it can be prevelant just as much in everyday life. And I think that the negative connotation that has been attached to this notion has made true critical thought and action more difficult.
In the classroom, flexibility may be the golden rule, but outside of that bubble it becomes less so. It is expected that teachers will be reflective of their teaching and its outcomes, and will make changes when necessary to better meet the needs of their students, changing the what, when, where, how, and why as often or as little as is necessary on a daily, weekly or yearly basis. This is not called flip-flopping; it’s called reflective practice, or just plain teaching. In the same school setting, changing in school policy and curriculum become less and less flexible the more individuals are involved in the process. The same level of reflective or critical action are taken as poor leadership and planning by those at the highest levels. What would be deemed sound judgment on the individual level suddenly becomes that flip-flopping we now associate with poor leadership ability. Added to this is our ever ready fear of change, and therefore a clinging to anything whether it is valid and just…or just plain doable.
But, given this, where do we draw the line. At what point does rigidity become more foolhardy than change, and therefore justify new action? Or what is considered too much flexibility? Are we too quick to judge leaders as being flip-floppers because it does seem outside of our control when and what they decide to change their minds on next?
In some schools, there has been a movement towards more “teacher-proof” curriculums, and I wonder if it has anything to do with these notions. Are we more afraid of the individual, with all their many critical capacities, than we are of the group and all of it’s (sometimes false) convictions. Or, is it the other way around?