Are we there yet?

“Changing Key” by .stephweiss on Flickr via Creative Commons

“It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.”
Albert Einstein


Every school is a busy place.  But not all ‘busyness’ looks the same.  Some schools are busy trying to drive test scores up  Some schools are understaffed.  Other schools are busy trying to move towards a more visionary ‘big picture.’

With the move to mobile, the deluge of apps, the call for more connected educators, ripples of change are well…rippling.  How often do we talk about what ‘meaningful change,’ needs to look like?  So many schools talk about ‘changing the way they teach.’  But when do we color in the lines and define what we want the future of our schools to feel like?  Every new term sees a new buzzword, a new catch-phrase.  It is easy to talk the talk of modern education, it is of course an entirely different thing to discuss where modern education is headed.

Fellow COETAILER, Sonya, does a better job of picture painting here:

“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.”
Robert Frost

I love that Sonya ‘thinks big,’ in her Imagine a School project. We do need to think beyond the flash of 1:1 programs, and schools with Twitter feeds.  The future of learning has to be more ambitious than gadgetry. Technology most certainly is.

In the past five years of my career, I’ve learned this: now, more than ever, our classrooms have more ‘catalyst cred.’  We have much more access to getting things going and moving.  If you want to connect with a classroom on another continent–than you can do it today. If you want to publish for a global platform, you can.  Putting your learning into a global context has never EVER been easier.  This isn’t to say that there aren’t hurdles, because most certainly, there are.  The mother of all hurdles is this one:  we aren’t thinking big enough.

We still think about Challenge Based Learning and Project Based Learning on an insular scale–single schools, or single classrooms engaged in units.  I think the future of learning will be about networks of institutions working together. Schools will not invite guest speakers in–but rather they will have artists in residence, doctors, designers, producers in residence. This is about a philosophical shift in the way we value schools as institutions responsible (not only capable) for change.

Flickr Creative Commons via Sebastien Wiertz "Change"
Flickr Creative Commons via Sebastien Wiertz “Change”

A shift like this can only occur if we stop thinking of school solely as an avenue for individuals to pursue careers.  That’s a short sighted approach. Schools need to be seen as places where old and young, local and foreign are galvanized for greater greats. When schools begin to truly benefit communities, more people will want to be a part of what they do.  Schools should be a place for the elderly to feel valued once more.  What might that look like?

I have no doubt that schools in 2020 will have amazing new devices, funky tools, and loads of mind-blowing virtual reality activities.  That’s not going to transform our job as teachers.  What I do hope for, is that as a global society, we decide to make school purpose-driven.  We start to think of schools as the places that make and break towns and cities.  And I hope that our uber-connectivity pushes us to connect our schools to help one another deal with rising unemployment, or a refugee crisis, or recover from a hurricane.  I hope that teachers in coming decades will have a range of other professionals on their faculties, that we will recognize that only with diversity of thought can we have diversity of our collective mind.


Published by TriciaGpers

I blog about all things Global Perspectives!

7 replies on “Are we there yet?”

  1. I hope that schools will evolve to be more like community hubs for hands on learning. The virtual/digital stuff can be done at home. As alluring as the digital virtual may be – the practical hands on is far more interesting. I am so interested in learning how things work and then making it myself. Way more informative than virtual.

    1. Hi Jane,
      I agree–very interesting how that work/home line is blurred not only for teachers, but for students too. I’m thinking about the doll project you were working on earlier. What if we had an entire school working on that project? Everything from design, to business, to adverts?

  2. This honestly the best thing I have read in a very long time. It could have been the TED EX talk I am suppose to give next Saturday!
    As I read it I was at the same time inspired, humbled and discouraged. The last feeling is simply because I see that many schools are not in the business of “educating” but rather “prepping” for universities – which have their own agendas entirely.
    This post outlines education as a way for people live – which is not merely about skills and finding a job but about finding fulfilling work and building communities.

    1. John,
      Thank you for your comment–and for taking the time to highlight your concerns too. Yes, the idea of schools as places to merely prep kids for university is making less and less sense by the year.

  3. Hi Tricia,

    I really enjoyed reading this thoughtful reflection about schools. In particular, I was most intrigued by the idea of schools as networks that you mentioned here? We often here of consortiums of schools, they often participate in “leagues” or “conferences,” and there are, of course, the one-off collaborations that you mentioned early in the article. I wonder how these networks might look, on a larger scale… Would this be curricular design? Course sharing via digital platforms, like a digital study abroad program, maybe? I think there are so many possibilities, and networks are vital. And as you mentioned, each trend and buzzword drives momentum in schools, but not all schools are in the same place. Could this be part of the puzzle, too: Sharing our internal resources as a school through the network to drive that growth.

    I am fascinated with this idea and how it could work. Have you given this any other thought since you posted? I would like to hear more.

    1. Hi Tom,

      Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I think an interesting experiment would be for schools near and far to approach one challenge based learning unit at the same time. What if five schools were all working on one problem simultaneously? What if those five schools were sharing resources? Sharing success stories? What if student leaders were networked across those schools?
      I know I’m asking a lot of ‘what if’s?’ here…but isn’t that the very job of an educator?

  4. I am leaning more to the concept of the Micro School or Alt School. Smaller schools on a smaller, more personal scale in which we are focused much more on learning than on school (to steal from George Couros – love!). I love the idea of xxxx-in residence. Whomever that may be. I love the idea of flexible space and of learning. Really learning. Things that excite and inspire. Of kids reading and thinking and debating and creating. I could go on forever.

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