Do you recall that image of the scarecrow pointing in two directions when Dorothy reaches a fork in the road in the movie The Wizard of Oz?  I find myself reminded of that scene when I think about where we are in education today.

 

On the one hand, we are asked to challenge students to dig deeper in their learning.  On the other hand, we are driven to engage children an inch deep and a mile wide with testing and tasks.  We are told to raise standards, but cut your budgets; individualize instruction, but fulfill mandates in a one-size-fits–all model; instill trust, but leave little time to build rapport in our race to somewhere over the rainbow.

 

Somehow, along the way Dorothy must have wondered how did we get to this point?  The yellow brick road of education has always had pitfalls, paths that do not lead to greater enlightenment, and places that gave us the false hope that we were headed in the right direction.  Learning is never a simple, straightforward, one directional road.

 

In her quest to return home, Dorothy and Toto depend upon others to provide the key insights that have eluded them in the journey to Oz.  So it is that we must work together in these difficult times to help secure a brighter future for our children.   The education of our youth will never be advanced by some mythical wizard behind a curtain.

 

The effort to push the current agenda filled with mistrust, based upon the pressure to perform, will do as much good for finding our way home to healthy and vibrant learning communities as believing that there is a helium balloon waiting to take us to such a destination.

 

We can only hope that the Scarecrow reminds us that we must find the wisdom to offer the suggestion that less is actually more; that the Lion’s message reminds us of the courage that we need to resist the onslaught of the so-called reform agenda; and that the Tin Man reminds us to lead with our heart as much as our head.

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