Newer Doesn’t Mean Better

Earlier this week, after a conversation with some teachers and a principal at one of my schools, I tweeted this question: “Why is education the only institution where people feel it is acceptable to say that’s the way we’ve always done it?” Although most supported the general sentiment in my tweet, it did provoke some discussion.

As long as it is constructive, we should welcome discussion, and even the pushback that may ensue. We should never think that our perspective is the best, or the only perspective on a particular issue. Lending an ear, and listening to the perspectives of others is the essence of what makes us better educators. To this end, Andrew Campbell responded to my tweet. Andrew maintains that “newer doesn’t necessarily mean better”; I couldn’t agree more.

The point I was attempting to capture in my tweet is that we can’t close off our minds to the possibility that something new may be better. Are new, and better, synonymous, of course not. My point is simply that we need to keep an open mind to the possibility that something new might be better than its predecessor. We should always be keeping our ear to the ground to listen for new ideas that will provide the best experiences for our students.

In closing, I’d like to share an observation. Why are some educators so quick to dismiss new initiatives and ideas? Is it because they feel challenged by authority? “You can’t tell me what to do!” Perhaps. If this is the case, I’m led to think that resisters tend to view the educational system as a compartmentalized and hierarchical structure, seeking a desire to challenge authority. This is in contrast to those who embrace open, fluid networks where challenging authority never comes into the equation because no one has the best answer. Newer doesn’t mean better, but we owe it to our students to lend an ear.

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