Chapter Ten: Prospects for Education
The task of maintaining a high-quality school system in a diverse, pluralistic, changing society is far from simple! Change affects schools in important ways that we may not understand very well. People have quite different views about how schools should be organized and operated. Governments are pushing change in particular directions without necessarily having a good understanding of what the results will be. Many teachers are feeling overwhelmed by all the changes that seem to be pressing on them yet making lasting improvements in a well-established organization can be very difficult even when people agree on what the changes should be. All of this creates some dangers, for when people allow themselves to become preoccupied with unwanted changes, they lose the connection between themselves and the external world. People who are afraid of change also anticipate more and more threatening upheavals, condemning it in advance and, in a curious way, preparing themselves for the worst.
Seen from another perspective, however, this is a particularly exciting time to be involved in education. Teaching must be an optimistic endeavour. The whole idea of education rests on the possibility of betterment—on our belief that we can help the next generation create a better world. People expect our schools to help all students do well. Could we ask for a more important and more exciting challenge? When people are questioning things, when long-established practices are open to scrutiny, when there is an acceptance that at least some things need to be done differently, then there are also great opportunities for people with ideals and initiative. We have the opportunity to put our values into action in the service of education. Teachers, parents, and all those interested in schools can focus on the positive potential—the ability of people when motivated and supported to find ways of being in the world that are more conducive to creating and sustaining the kind of schools, and the kind of society, that most of us want.