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Where Will the Pendulum Swing Next?

So many teachers I know are frustrated. Report cards, meetings, data, conferences, planning, reports, IEPs, and so on! There is far too much to do in the little time we have. The children are needier than ever, and we don't dare stop pushing the curriculum to see to their needs.
The educational pendulum has swung out of control. Read about some of the educational fads as well as ideas for the ideal school!

I've been in education for a very long time. I've seen that pendulum swing in every direction!
I've seen Whole Language, phonics based reading, language experience, basal readers, invented spelling, standard spelling, Math Their Way, computer learning labs (Waterford in the 90s!), The Writing Process, 6 Traits, individualized reading, whole group learning, worksheets, seat work, round robin reading, time-on-task, lecturing, teacher centered classrooms, student centered classrooms, technology centered classrooms, reading across the curriculum, phonemic awareness, think-pair-share, cross-curriculum units, collaborative learning, differentiated learning, learning styles, multiple intelligences, activity based learning, STEM, STEAM, flipped classroom, developmental learning, problem based learning, regimented classrooms, open classrooms, teachers as knowledge dispensers, teachers as facilitators, rubrics, hands-on learning, posting learning objectives, PLCs, Values Clarification, Precision Teaching, textbooks, trade books, sitting in rows, sitting in circles, sitting in groups, Brain Gym, Bloom's Taxonomy, Madeline Hunter's lesson design, Smartboards, ipads, Chromebooks, mainstreaming, inclusion, prior knowledge, peer tutoring, learning centers, left-brain and right-brain, portfolios, authentic assessment, creative thinking, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, gifted education, integrated curriculum, standards based, self-esteem building, No Child Left Behind, and Race to the Top.

Wow, no wonder I'm so tired! If you recognize all the fads above, I'll bet you're as old as I am! I'm sure I've missed a bunch as well, but I think this list will bring back lots of memories, if not nightmares!

I've used all of the above teaching strategies. I'm not claiming to like or dislike these methods, but I can honestly say I've learned something from each! And I can honestly say I've seen many of these forced upon teachers until they were proved ineffective, or until something "better" came along.

There are many good things happening today in education. Yet, today's kids are stressed out more than ever before. Teachers are losing confidence and determination, and are leaving the profession.

Something is not right. Something has to change.

And I predict it will. Why? Because that's how education works!

I read this article this morning:

It really got me thinking... if I were to design my own school, not based on data or test results, but based on the needs of children, school would look quite differently.

😊Teachers would have more respect. They would know what their students need, and would offer lessons along those lines. 

😊Classrooms would have far less structure and a whole lot more fun. 

😊Focus would be on learning to work with others, not doing well on tests.

😊Basic skills, such as reading, math, spelling and handwriting, would be taught when the children are ready to learn them.

😊Class numbers would be smaller, more flexible, and teachers would be encouraged to co-teach.

😊Children would have recess several times a day.

😊Art, Music, and Physical Education would be offered daily.

This has been rather therapeutic! Many of my ideas are based on things I've read, but this sure was fun! 

Give it a try! It doesn't have to be realistic, but what would your ideal school look like? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments!

In the meantime, if you're feeling crazy, exhausted, and/ or frustrated, you are not alone. It won't last forever.

The educational pendulum has swung out of control. Read about some of the educational fads as well as ideas for the ideal school!


  1. It is amazing how stressed out kids are today! I wonder if kids were stressed out in the 60's and 70's, but we couldn't say anything. I am glad that I didn't have a cell phone or computer when my own kids were small because I had less distractions and more time to spend to them. I always enjoy your insights.

    1. Thanks, Susan. I really don't think kids were this stressed out in the 60s and 70s. Kids today just don't have time to play outside and release the stress like they used to. Now they just have to hold it in, which really doesn't work too well!


  2. I like what you mentioned above - and I'd add something like a Makers Space or Genius Hour daily. Except maybe more loose than either of those concepts in their current form. Ideally the students would be able to work on art projects, write plays, create a new coding/technology program, etc. There's just so much PUSH. I'm nervous for my own children to go into today's school (even though I'm sure they'll have GREAT teachers who love them and care for them). I'm also nervous for myself if I go back into working at schools. This time off has been amazing to stay home and raise my children, but I'm not sure how long I can make that work for our family financially. Thank you for making me think!!

  3. Thanks, Heather! I love the ideas of Makers Space and Genius Hour, just a non-stressful version. I truly believe that pendulum is due to swing back, so it will be ok by the time your little ones are ready!


  4. Really enjoyed your article as a 30+ years teacher I totally agree. Over the past 3 years my classroom teaching has changed more and more to be a more flexible, safe, free environment and I can see how much happier my students are and surprise, better education results. Threw out heaps of desks have lounges, beanbags mat laps and high tables. The students are free to move chat, and change position as the day changes for them. Could never go back to the old ways.

  5. I think that teacher stress needs to be addressed. The expectation is that we have all the time in the world to plan and prepare wonderful lessons and activities. I think teachers need more planning and prep time. Too much of this is done on our own time without payment or recognition.


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