This week’s Blogger challenge: If you were “King or Queen for a day,” what would you do to improve #oklaed (<600 words). This will be fun!

— Rob Miller (@edgeblogger) March 23, 2015

My fellow bloggers-in-arms were much quicker out of the gate with their responses to the challenge thrown down during last Sunday’s #oklaed Twitter chat. I encourage you to read them all. Go ahead, I will wait for you here.

Blue Cereal Education – King For a Day

Fourth Generation Teacher / Claudia Swisher – #oklaed Queen for a Day

OkEducationTruths / Rick Cobb – Blogging from a Prompt: If I Were King 

Teaching From Here / Scott Haselwood – If I Am The #Oklaed King for a Day!

Tegan Teaches 5th – Queen for a Day!

Nicole Shobert, Thoughts and Ramblings – If I Were Queen of Education for the Day

In a blatant appeal to our collective narcissism, I have to say what the others have written is so perceptive, so illuminating, and so profoundly brilliant, I am reluctant to submit my own feeble retort.

There is really not much more to say of importance that the others have not addressed. Higher pay for teachers–check. Reduced testing–check. Eliminate NCLB and other vestiges of high stakes testing–check. Transform our high schools to focus MORE on individualization, critical thinking, and problem solving skills and LESS on content memorization and student standardization–check. Love kids and help them find meaning in their lives–check!

To be honest, a monarchy is probably not a great way to run an education system anyway.

Oklahoma has already experienced a malevolent monarchy of sorts, with the brutal four-year reign of Queen Janet of Molardum. Janet’s “off with their heads” approach to most educational issues is not worthy of emulation, or further comment for that matter.

For that reason, I intend to operate my Kingdom with a sense of benevolence, common sense, and ample doses of humor. For inspiration, I will defer to the most memorable example of Kingly leadership I can think of, which of course is: “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

holy grail

Using lessons inculcated from my multiple abnormally excessive viewings of this film, my royal decree would go something like this:

  1. Children should be taught knowledge and skills of known value. We all know students who ask, “When will I ever use this in real life?” Let’s be real–unless they become teachers or Jeopardy contestants, the vast majority of knowledge we teach falls into an abyss never to be seen again. But there are those rare times when completely useless facts will save your life. Therefore, it is important to know answers for the following questions: (answer key below)
    • What is your name?*
    • What is your quest?*
    • What is your favorite color?**
    • What is the capital of Assyria? ***
    • What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? ****

KEY:  *Answers may vary. **Tip: Know the difference between blue and yellow.  ***Which capital do you want? Assyria’s first capital was Aššur, while its most famous capital was Nineveh. However, there was also a religious capital located at Caleh.  **** African or European? The airspeed velocity of an unladen European Swallow is roughly 11 meters per second, or 24 miles per hour. Studies on the African Swallow are ongoing.  How do I know so much about swallows? Well, you have to know these things when you’re a king, you know.

  1. “If she weighs more than a duck, she must be a witch.” Policy makers and educators must continually guard against misapplication or distortion of academic data. We must also be consciously aware of our cognitive biases and how they impact our decision-making.
  2. If you build a Trojan rabbit don’t forget to be inside when you gift the rabbit. The second stage of the plan is very difficult unless you are inside. To effect change in your classroom, school, district, or in the state, you have to be involved and take risks.
  3. If you build your castle in a swamp and it sinks, don’t build in the same place. Think test-based accountability. Sometime when you try to fail you should not try in the same manner. It is called learning from mistakes. It is time to rebuilt the castle of education on stable ground.
  4. “Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.” And strange dentists lying with words, distributing barbs on teachers is no basis for a system of public education.
  5. “I’m not dead yet.” Don’t succumb to those who want to silence you. Keep fighting until the bitter end.
  6. Do more than say “I feel happy, I want to go for a walk!” Get up and walk the walk if what you are saying is true.
  7. “Camelot is a rather silly place.” The kingdom that corporate reformers want is built upon the flawed foundation that public schools are failing and teachers don’t care. Why waste any more time there?
  8. A good religion has armaments that can defeat evil deities or rabbits. Keep the faith and stay strong.

Oops, I’m over 600 words. Run away!