I was talking to my colleague Deanna Stall when she brought up an interesting point. She asked, “What if the system has plateaued? That this is the best that we can expect from school.” Good question.  It got me thinking about all the talk about changing school, from Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk “Bring on the Learning Revolution” to the book I am currently reading by Salman Khan, The One World Schoolhouse. One of the main points about education is how it must change, that it is broken.  But maybe Mrs. Stall’s question is more accurate.  Let me talk about the bench press first.

Not to get into the principles of conditioning, but I want to use the bench press to highlight the idea of a plateau. The bench press is a great exercise. But if you do the same rep set or keep the same weight everyday, you will soon hit a plateau in your development. The easiest way to break the plateau is a change in reps, weight, or the training cycle.  Change something, not stop doing the bench press.

School is a great place. Teachers work hard to provide an education for every child.  Activities, from sports to FFA to a school play, provide unique opportunities for students to express their talents. There are too many positives about school that get lost in the discussion of change.  Many times it feels like the discussion is centered on the idea we trash the whole system and start over.  But what if we think about it from the position of the plateau?

Change is growth, but the change is in the approach not the foundation.  An athlete will not stop doing the bench press when they hit a plateau; they change their training.

The question for a school, or even a teacher, is what to change to reach the full potential of the school or the classroom.  What can we change to break through the plateau?  Because the worst part of a plateau is the false perception that it is the best you can do…

1 Comment

Filed under Education

One response to “Plateau?

  1. Deanna

    Fantastic video choice!

    In science we often do labs (much like your bench press) that require the right combination to move beyond the current conditions. For example, in order to neutralize a base you add an acid. Using an indicator to your base, you add enough acid until the indicator in the base becomes “pink” or neutralized. As you add the acid, there seems to be a plateau where you may add acid forever without a change. Then finally it is pink. The strength of the base will limit your change.

    Another example is baking bread. After you mix it all up and knead it, you are to let it rise. If it doesn’t rise, what ingredient did you miss? Is the yeast dead? With old yeast, your bread dough will only rise so much… it will plateau. Your yeast is your limiting agent in this case.

    So what ingredient or limiting reagent makes change happen/not happen in education? What will push us past the tipping point of education? In science it is energy or ingredients that make the change. Who are those people in your system? WHY?

    I loved your blog! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

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