Making the Case for Maintenance as Progress
Actively sustaining existing initiatives instead of adding new ones
The Brief Case 📚→💼→📈→📊
a ‘forward at all costs’ concept that is obsessed with producing new things just because new things need to be produced. It’s a notion intrinsically linked to how we view and value ourselves in a capitalist society where only the ‘demonstratively new’ is valued while things like maintenance, care, rest or play are considered a waste of time. (Jenny Odell cited in Dense Discovery, Issue 170)
The tension between the “demonstratively new” in schools and things like “maintenance, care, and rest” is something to which school leadership teams should be paying attention.
If you were in a position to listen to faculties over the past two years — in public and private schools across the country — they were tired, if not exhausted. Peel back another layer, and those employees pointed to the fact that schools and their administrations continued to push ahead as if nothing has changed. As one colleague said to us, “Schools are acting like it’s business as usual, but times are thoroughly unusual, so can we just stop adding shiny new initiatives?”
Though often intensified due to ongoing external challenges, such critiques are not new and are not unfounded. We have heard a version of them throughout our careers in schools. On the flip side, administrators, the architects of all things shiny and new at schools, are often, as they should be, helping their institutions to face the question of relevance. All school missions, like software, must be made compatible for each new generation of families.
Can we fully resolve the tension between progress and maintenance? Probably not. But the dichotomy is worth owning in full as you set the pace for change and establish the conditions for success in your schools.
📚 The Learning Case for Maintenance as Progress
John Dewey’s work in progressive education encourages schools to reflect society. Society is always (ideally) progressing, and such progress should also be visible in its schools.
Here’s a consideration for the people in our schools who want things to slow down or even to stop: standing still in schools is not net-neutral. In fact, it’s often regressive; if your school is standing still, it’s likely that everything else around your school is