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Icarus and School Reform

by Larry Ferlazzo - November 17, 2011

Many efforts by self-styled "school reformers" are like a "fractured fairy tale" version of the Icarus Greek myth. Icarus escaped from prison through the ingenious use of wings made of feathers and wax -- a brilliant idea. However, he ignored warnings to stay away from the sun, so the wax melted and he fell into the sea. Some school reformers seize on great ideas, but then, like Icarus, get so exhilarated by them that they, too, throw all caution to the wind. The "fractured" part in this version, though, is that it's not them who end up suffering the consequences of their exuberance. No, it's us teachers and our students who end up "falling into the sea" as a result. The ideas that can get warped and destructive as they are applied in the name of school reform include videotaping teachers, using student surveys, encouraging social emotional learning (SEL), and emphasizing the importance of the parent/school connection. I describe how they, instead, can be used to more effectively help students, their families, teachers, and schools.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: November 17, 2011
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 16608, Date Accessed: 9/18/2021 9:09:50 AM

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About the Author
  • Larry Ferlazzo
    Luther Burbank High School
    E-mail Author
    LARRY FERLAZZO teaches English and Social Studies at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, California. He writes a popular blog for teachers and a weekly teacher advice column for Education Week Teacher, and has authored several books on education.
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