“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.