This post is inspired by a post on edutopia.org by Maurice J. Elias.

It Takes Courage to Make Schools Better

Maurice J. Elias Prof. of Psychology, Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab (www.secdlab.org), Director, the Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service (engage.rutgers.edu) Courage is not something that is reserved for leaders. Anyone who wants to see a school improve needs it — and needs to be prepared to initiate and participate in courageous conversations.


Reforming or restructuring schools does take courage. The patterns, habits, and history of how we organize learning have been ingrained in us for generations. It is not easy to stand up and say, “This is not right.” Or to say, “This needs to change.”

Elias post reminds us that we can start by asking hard questions. Some his examples and some of mine:

Why are we doing things this way?
What would happen if we stopped doing it this way?
What are the alternatives?
What am I willing to do differently?
What experiments with learning are we willing to try as a group of colleagues?
Are we having serious conversations with the students about why we do what we do and why we expect what we expect?
Are we having serious conversations with the parents about why we do what we do and why we expect what we expect – and their expectations and willingness to let us try alternative approaches?

Let us be more courageous in our conversatons about schooling and learning.