To Search for Education’s Martin Luther King, Jr.(?): A Beginning

Does education need its own Martin Luther King, Jr.?

That was the crucial question embedded in Dr. Rod Berger‘s “The Transcendent Nature of Sir Ken Robinson in Global Education” (published on edCircuit). (See also Berger’s interview with Sugata Mitra, in which he returns to the question.) In his piece, Berger does not just celebrate Sir Ken Robinson.  He asks whether Robinson’s voice might actually be the voice of education.  Whether he is the “ambassador” and “representative” of education professionals everywhere.

That point brings us to the crucial question.  Take a look at this quote by Matt Harris, Ed.D. that Berger offers in support:

Contemporary education is at crossroads where we are rich with creativity, straddled by regulation and absent any shining beacon to guide us. We need a Martin Luther King type leader to unify our passions and focus our efforts for the common good of learning for all.

Many might agree here.  If we elect Robinson (or anyone else) to “guide us,” we streamline innovation.  We gather our resources, trim the fat, choose the prime cuts of the current way, and create a (new) system.  We activate that system to realize equity in education.  We activate it to realize the transformation we so desperately want (and our students so desperately need).

But hold on.

What happens in the process? What happens to “us” when we choose someone to “guide us”?

We fall in line.  We defer responsibility.  If our “passions” can’t “unify,” we abandon them in favor of something else.  If someone else is our “shining beacon,” we give up a little of our own light so that he or she can be brighter.

What’s lost in the process? Your work.  Our work.  The projects that not enough people hear about, that don’t have enough manpower or funding.  The pursuits that – nevertheless – you, your particular school, your particular colleagues, even your particular students know make a difference.  The work that makes your kids’ learning personalized.  Niched.  Locally innovative.

Lost…

We have to be careful as we move forward by asking ourselves:  do we streamline innovation in education by finding a “representative”? Or, do we keep our work messy by seeking more ways to personalize and localize innovation? Better yet, is a balance possible (and if so, where is it?)

What’s your answer?

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