Educational reforms repeatedly fizzle out after an initial burst of enthusiasm. Progressivism appears to get defeated by conservatism. Why? There are many explanations that address the power of the status quo, nature of bureaucratic governance and the persistence of comfort zones. It recently occurred to me how reforms conceived by teachers are destined to fail because teaching is based upon premises that defeat transformation.
Teachers portray their wonderful educational reforms as something that can be taught. Getting the improved approach depends on learning it from a teacher, expert or authority figure. It's not something one could learn on their own and get it right. It's not something where teaching interferes with learning from experiments and experience.
Teachers deliver their models of improved education through books. They capture the possibility on printed pages that make pronouncements, provide procedures and prescribe methodologies. The reforms don't naturally emerge from "out of control" conversations, communities of practice or coaching each other.
Teachers create reform ideologies that then require pushing against the status quo. It's setup as a tough sell to a stubborn audience who are highly invested in their own habits, perceptions and world-view. There's no way for the possibility to sell itself, solve other problems or seem valuable in other frames of reference.
Teachers imply a story in their educational reforms that perpetuates factory models of schooling. They assume the process of change can be efficient and systematized. They presume that consistent compliance will get the job done. They imagine the change will never happen by deviant discoveries, personal reflections and creative self expressions.
Teachers who initiate educational reforms find out their approaches didn't work. Yet they don't learn from their setbacks. They blame themselves or others instead. They assume it takes power they don't have, budgets they're lacking or elusive buy-in from their insensitive opposition. They don't change their minds in ways that change their worlds. They don't switch to thinking like change agents, community developers or entrepreneurs. They remain as teachers first and foremost.