Reverse Enigeered

Sometimes the answers are right there in front of us all along; we just weren’t paying attention closely enough. Or maybe we didn’t want to accept them. 

As a fan of (most of) M. Night Shyamalan’s films, I look forward to solving his labyrinthian puzzles before the big reveal just before the closing credits. So far, however, I’m batting a paltry .000. 

In The Sixth Sense, all I had to do was recognize that Bruce Willis’s character never changed his clothes, and I would have realized he was dead all along. 

In The Village, all I had to do was listen more closely to the villagers’ grizzly accounts of their pasts to realize the whole story took place in modern times (fun fact: Shyamalan was nearly sued for copyright infringement by Running Out of Time author Margaret Peterson Haddix). 

In Unbreakable, I mean, c’mon, he slaps us in the face with the fact that Willis’ character is the superhero to Samuel L. Jackson’s villain. 

If only I could have reverse engineered each story…

The thing about reverse engineering, the process of understanding through dissecting that which already exists, is that the answers are all right there in front of us. We just rarely look. 

Visit any elementary school classroom, and you’re sure to see (and hear) kids being met where they are in their own learning, being given license to move around the room, and being expected to work collaboratively. 

~If you need a check in, meet me at the back table. If you can help a friend with this, go ahead!

~Find a spot in the room that will help you concentrate.

~Turn and talk to a friend about what you just read.

Now do the same exercise on a secondary campus, and you’re sure to see (and hear) the difference. Kids sitting in rows. Teachers at the front of the room. Compliance showing creativity the door.  

 ~Please stay in your assigned seat until the bell.

~I shouldn’t hear anyone talking!

~Complete 1-30 on page 382 for tomorrow. 

Don’t even get me started on higher education. 

So, why? Logically, shouldn’t the reverse be true? Shouldn’t it be the older kids to whom we hand the keys and get out of the way? Shouldn’t it be the littles for whom we assume the heavy lifting? 

What if we reverse engineered public education? What if we looked at all the ways at which we expect elementary students to learn and grow together and applied it to the secondary level? 

While I realize nothing is as simple as wishing it into existence, we need to start focusing on what is working, harness it, and apply it to all grade levels.

Otherwise, we are no different than so many M Night fans left wondering how we didn’t see the end coming, and by then, it’s too late.