Battle of the edu-tribes

After attending EduCon 2.3, Sam Chaltain identifies three edu-tribes: The Old Guard who defend the status quo, the New Guard of education reformers who battle the Old Guard and the “growing, hopeful, tech-savvy, solution-oriented tribe” of EduCon educators who’d rather text than fight. He belongs to the last group.

Chaltain cites Dave Logan’s Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization, which identifies five tribal stages.

Chaltain’s EduCon Tribe is all about collaboration, communication and “co-creating 21st century citizens.” Members align around principles such as “Our schools must be inquiry-driven, thoughtful and empowering for all members” and “technology must serve pedagogy.”

By contrast, the Old Guard is operating at a “my life sucks” view of the world.

Logan describes people in this cultural stage as “passively antagonistic; they cross their arms in judgment yet never really get interested enough to spark any passion. . . . . they’ve seen it all before and watched it fail. The mood that results is a cluster of apathetic victims, united in their belief that someone or something is holding them down and standing in their way.”

Meanwhile, the New Guard’s world view is “I’m great, and you’re not.”


Sputtering rage is a poor way to convince anyone they’re on the wrong side of a debate or to sway the undecided,” writes Rick Hess.

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  1. Hmm. I’m not sure that I’d agree with the characterization.

    I’d say many people in Tribe 2 are tech-savvy and even technophiles. Someo f us are even former devotees of Tribe 3.

    It’s just that we’ve observed and lived so many spectacular Tribe 3 failures, whether laptops-for-all or Microsoft School of The Future or the now defunct Central Park East, and so few successes in high-poverty schools.

    Tribe 3 is clearly more appealing on its face. It requires much less coercion of kids. If that were a tried-and-true path, who would possibly oppose it?

    It’s just that it’s so frequently tried-and-failed.


    “Our schools must be inquiry-driven” — sounds good. Who opposes the idea of inquiry?

    But there’s only so much time in the day. Inquiry may not be the most efficient way to get kids who have something asymptotically approaching zero knowledge and incredibly low reading levels to, you know, learn actual stuff, and learn how to read.

  2. Forget the lack of efficiency of inquiry-driven school programs, try functionality. As in… they don’t function.