I tried to find an easy button today so I could take a picture of it, but I came up empty-handed. So you’ll have to settle for this image ripped from Flickr:
If you couldn’t tell, I want to say a few things about “easy” in education:
Structural changes are easy: creating new sections of a course or even an entirely new program at the school or district level; regrouping students, using different textbooks, changing the layout of your classroom at the school level. All of those things are relatively easy to do to solve common structural problems: classroom overcrowding, giving students more choices in their coursework, making sure those students who misbehave when they’re in close proximity aren’t anywhere near each other during group work, replacing a severely outdated textbook with incorrect information, updating learning spaces in accordance with current research.
But what if the problem is with student learning? Well, then “easy” just doesn’t cut it anymore. Buying more things isn’t the answer. Regrouping or just doing more of the same with students only for a longer period of time and slower isn’t going to solve the problem. When student learning is the issue, a transformative change is needed. Large instructional changes and shifts in philosophies are needed. That’s when the work is the learning, and the learning is the work. No easy structural fix is going to improve student learning.
Fixing student learning is hard work for adults. But so worth it.