Monday, June 23, 2014

What is the Role of Inaction in Schools?

There's a greater potential to be called out for action that errs than inaction errors.

Sometimes action intended for positive change errs, however inaction may have the potential for greater error.

For example, if a child struggles in school, and an educator tries to make change, there's a chance that change will work and make a significant difference. Yet if an educator turns away from a child's struggle or challenge, that inaction has a 100% chance of failure.  So which is better--action that might succeed or inaction that's sure to fail.

I recognize that the answer is not that simple as the best response is a thoughtful, researched action--an action that's based on strong rationale and experience. As I consider this issue, I am thinking about inaction that results in loss; inaction in response to the following questions:
  • What do we do when children do not have tech access at home? 
  • What happens when a child's service delivery is not met in timely, regular ways?
  • How do we change the program when a child continually acts out? 
  • What if a child is hungry in the morning; what do we do?
  • If a child's family cannot communicate with a school due to language barriers or other barriers, how do we respond?
  • If the standards outnumber the minutes in a day, do we make change?
  • If a classroom or learning space is not conducive to excellence, what do we do?
  • Do we respond to student or collegial questions in timely, thoughtful ways?
  • Do we research and employ new educational tools, strategies, and processes?
In teaching/learning environments that invite solution focused efforts and actions, inaction probably doesn't occur that often. However, in risk-adverse environments, it's my guess that inaction often occurs since there's a risk of punishment when it comes to trying out new ideas--ideas that might create positive change, change that successfully affects a child's experience of school.

As I think about learning and teaching, I want to focus on when and how I act, and when and how I engage in inaction. I want to make sure that when there is need I act with research-based, experience-focused action that aims to remedy a situation or prevent a challenge. I also want to be mindful of when I choose inaction, and why I choose that path--a path that sometimes can be the right path, but is often not a solution-focused path.

How do you meet inaction in your learning community?  When is inaction a right response, and when is inaction worse than action that might be imperfect? These are important considerations as we move schools forward. We must consider both action and inaction as we consider the many ways we can embrace to teach children well.