The image below has been circling online and is attributed to Alberto Brea:
The simple line that is missing from the picture is this; Blockbuster killed Blockbuster. In reality, they had everything they needed to continue to succeed as well as advantages over competitors. They were the most well known, had stores all over the world, and a history of success. It was more of a refusal of Blockbuster to move forward than it was a willingness for a different company to do something different, and more importantly, better.
I am not a fan of the “school is broken” narrative. The people who need to hear it, don’t, and the people that it is often targeted toward, are the ones working their butts off to make amazing things happen for kids on a continuous basis. There are lots of things about current schools that I love, that are not necessarily new, but are the norm when I went to school as a student. Schools get way too little credit for what they do right, and often, when they are doing great things, the focus immediately shifts to find the weaknesses.
Check out the title of this post in the Toronto Sun from 2014; “Literacy rates up but students still struggling with math.” The bulk of the article is not about literacy, but about math. The constant game of education whack-a-mole.
This doesn’t mean schools can’t get better, as is the case of every organization. It also doesn’t ignore the fact that any organization is immune to being “disrupted.” If you remember when Khan Academy first came out, many educators were extremely nervous that this would replace schools and were sick of that narrative. Although many in education use Khan Academy as a useful supplement, the reason it didn’t replace schools wasn’t necessarily because schools changed their practices significantly, but in reality, Khan Academy could not succeed the importance of a teacher in a classroom. It is the relationships that separates schools, not the content.
The reason I love the image shared in this post is because it is a reminder that schools hold their fates in their own hands until they don’t. That will always be up to the people in the organizations making these things happen. But as my friend, Dwight Carter always reminds me and others, “Make it a great day…or not. The choice is yours.”
I am not worried about some major disruption happening to schools because I see so many educators and organizations creating their own change, not waiting for someone to do it to or for them. They are also doing it within constraints and in the constant face of adversity. That is what makes educators amazing. But we can just never become complacent with “what was” or we could lose our opportunity at “what could have been.” Educators have more control of the future of schools than any outside source will.
Continue to create that meaningful change. Your students and your communities might not thank you as much as is deserved, but your impact will always be significant.