I first entered school as a student a few months before my fifth birthday. Over the next years, I had an inconsistent relationship with school. Sometimes I hated it, sometimes I enjoyed it. As a teenager, I decided I wanted to become a teacher. My career in education is well into its fourth decade. Over these decades, I have continued to have an inconsistent relationship with school. Sometimes I hate it, sometimes I enjoy it. The difference, I have found, can be predicted and explained by varying three dimensions:
- Good teachers connect with students personally and intellectually. The more this happens, the more enjoyable and effective the school.
- Many “things” we do in education are red herrings, they divert our attention and energy to irrelevant factors. The more leaders focus organizational attention on these red herrings, the less enjoyable and effective the school.
- Students are often blamed for their failures. The more students are blamed, the less enjoyable and effective the school.