Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's Best Not To Confuse

Ambiguity (2008)
I was recently reminded that when district leadership works feverishly on small, inconsequential control issues it does so in order to avoid having to address systemic issues related to leadership, organization, practices and policy.  This person said, "It gives the illusion of getting tough, when getting smart was actually needed." It made me pause and consider the inherent danger in confusing one thing with another. Then Will Richardson posted, Easier vs Better and again I thought about the dichotomies it might be best to uncouple.

With that in mind, here's a list of things it is best not to confuse:
  1. technician with teacher
  2. standardization with excellence
  3. testing with achievement
  4. manager with principal-teacher
  5. authority with leadership
  6. compliance with agreement
  7. method (any really) with innovation
  8. scripted instruction with teaching
  9. National Standards with individual standards
  10. professional development with professional learning
  11. pacing with depth
  12. assigning with occasioning
  13. measurement with outcome
  14. data with story
  15. technology with technique
  16. attending meetings with distributed leadership
  17. 'best' practices with experience
  18. test preparation with curriculum
  19. efficiency with excellence
  20. explicit content with ways of knowing
  21. mission statement with vision
  22. schooling with learning
  23. being busy with solving problems
  24. production with value
  25. control with self organization
  26. grading with response
  27. mandates with choice
  28. telling & directing with empathy 
  29. content learning with disciplinary knowledge
  30. answering with agency
  31. student with learner
Feel free to add to the list...


  1. 32. homework with rigor

    I have a feeling, you'd be really good at "Buzzword Bingo" (a game I learned from John T. Spencer).

  2. 33. memorization with understanding

  3. 35. Compliance with motivation or self-control
    36. Degrees with expertise

  4. 37. boredom with apathy
    38. tradition with appropriate

  5. David, have never played buzzword bingo, but have been in education for 29 years. Must make me a expert.

  6. Jill, I wish you might say more about silence being mistaken for engagement. Seems important. Thanks.

  7. Ann that's the superordinate under which all else can be categorized.

  8. Love those pairings, Steve. The first (Compliance w/ motivation or self control) reminds me of how silence is misunderstood and the mistake to not acknowledge the force power has. The second can certainly be true. Also would like to suggest that expertise isn't a static matter.

  9. Patrick, I think boredom is often understood as apathy and the second as well. The way we have always done it is a poor excuse/reason.

  10. I'd like to add:

    transparency with vulnerability
    rigor with challenge
    rewards with motivation

  11. The first set, John stop me. Makes me think. Thanks.