James Bond and Teachers: Blunt Instruments or Multi Tools?

On the weekend I am going to go see the new James Bond movie, Spectre, with a buddy. I am so excited, I feel like a kid at Christmas! Oh wait, it is almost Christmas…! I have been a huge Bond fan since first seeing Goldfinger when I was 10 years old.

In the movie Casino Royale, “M” calls Bond a “blunt instrument.” I love my work and am always thinking on how to improve, so I connected this to my work as an educator.


It got me thinking about how much Education has changed, and if the analogy of “blunt instrument” applies to us as educators. Are we blunt instruments where everyone is treated as the same nail after nail after nail, or are we working on more focused objectives around individualizing learning for each and every student, such as a multi tool with many different tools to do what is needed?

I remember as a beginning teacher (a long time ago…) my focus was on “covering” the concepts and SLAs that needed to be covered. Teaching was covering the material as a teacher, and less about helping kids to actually learn. Then a shift started, from “teaching” to “learning.” Our job has changed from teaching to helping kids learn. This is a subtle shift to most, but is a ground-shaking change for teachers.

There have been huge changes in the realm of education in the 20 years since I first became an educator. We have begun to learn more about and focus on 3 big changes:

  1. Student Engagement in their learning where it makes sense, is purposeful and meaningful
  2. Task Design and implementation that makes kids have to “think” in addition to developing basic skills
  3. Formative Assessment and Assessment for Learning have moved us beyond doing a summative unit test to assessment being a tool to help kids be able to learn, self-assess, reflect, and decide on the best next steps. Teachers are there to help kids learn skills that we use as adults every day in our own work and personal lives.

With the work on student engagement, task design, and formative assessment and coaching students rather than just assessing if they have memorized something or not, I believe that we have taken on a much better learning focus and are moving from being teachers to educators…


Work hard, learn tons!


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