Checklists

I’ve been going back and forth on what my ultimate goal is. And I still haven’t figured it out.

One thing I’ve become sure of is that if I were to create a model, even a well-researched and resonant one, it would become commodified and diluted almost as soon as it became popular.

I think about what I’ve fallen into and out of love with. Grit Test, Growth Mindset. Even the Best Plus test I administered several hundred times I once actually thought was pretty good. And although there is obviously unexamined oppressive reasoning behind all of them, the creators surely wanted to help. If I assume everyone is a mustache-twirling villain I do myself and them a disservice.

When you create a measurement tool, it so often just ends up a test people teach towards. If you condense it into a checklist, it’s easily digestible, but most people don’t or won’t or can’t take the time to place it in the context of the arguments supporting it, so it becomes a decontextualized CliffsNotes version of its original intent, and it loses much of its power.

On the other hand, if you refuse to checklist, how much reach can you really have?

I completed a project for school recently where I used Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies to envision changes I would make in my professional context. That book and its related articles resists checklisting, and I believe it’s better for it. But then I wonder if it automatically becomes limited to educators who are already interested in deepening their praxis.

It seems to me that the most impactful path is to create some sort of list to keep educators focused on central tenets. If people are interested in a model, they are going to need to remember some important facets thereof, and lists are an effective way to convey this information. But as soon as a list is created, it blocks out the sun for the people who merely want to seem they’ve deepened their praxis. And any truly great model is going to be complex because our students are.

How do you creat something that is complex but not convoluted, accessible but not diluted? I have no idea. But finding that tightrope and walking it is my goal over these final three years of school.