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Leadership and Activism, Philosophical Meanderings

Maybe We’re Having the Wrong Conversation

This article on Salon reminds us about one of the core issues related to academic achievement. It’s not teacher effectiveness, not curricular approach or pedagogy; it’s not the number of kids in the classroom or the size of the school. It’s economics, particularly the strongly distorted distribution of wealth.

So perhaps instead of education reform we need to be talking about economic reform. Our modern culture is based on an economic system that is fundamentally flawed. It thrives on the exploitation of people and the planet, and worships the false and illusory god of eternal material progress.

Remembering the words of the sage Aldo Leopold*, perhaps once we turn our attention to this issue, and create a just economic system that preserves and protects the integrity of the living planet, we will notice that there is much less need to have a conversation about education reform-at least for many of the reasons the conversation is convened today.

I know the situation is not as didactic as I portray it here. I do this purposely to create contrast and highlight the issue that often lays in the shadows. I hope by doing so it helps facilitate a more comprehensive conversation that we need to be having.

With hope,

Adam Burk

*“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty, of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” –A Sand County Almanac


About Adam Burk

Adam aims to serve the greater good; alleviate unnecessary suffering; and create beautiful, sane human communities in concert with the living planet. Recently, he has helped to rebuild local food systems in Maine in large part through school food services, organized the TEDxDirigo conference, and is a digital organizer with the Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA).


5 thoughts on “Maybe We’re Having the Wrong Conversation

  1. I think it’s pretty clear that it’s all about resources, and that yes, we ARE having the wrong conversations…

    Posted by Mark | January 10, 2011, 7:34 pm
  2. I read the article David mentions this morning, and was reminded tonight during #spedchat by @IraSocol that in Finland, kids begin life with parents who are paid to take a year off with them.

    Our “American” values are stuck in a Charybdis-like spin cycle.

    I’m positive that the best solutions to our problems will come from approaches that address both education and wealth-distribution.

    While we work on them, we should also teach kids the problem and ask them to teach us about their solutions.

    Adam, can you tell us more about how the Maine Enterprise School addresses the economics and environmental stewardship mentioned in your post?


    Posted by Chad Sansing | January 11, 2011, 11:25 pm
    • Chad,

      Maine Enterprise Schools addresses the issue exactly the way you propose. By involving the students in addressing the problem. This is much aligned to Zoe’s work as well. By guiding students through systemic analysis and letting them get deep into it, they can do a lot of research, and take action to create a more just and resilient world. That’s the short of it.


      Posted by Adam Burk | January 11, 2011, 11:49 pm


  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Maybe We’re Having the Wrong Conversation « Cooperative Catalyst -- - January 10, 2011

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