Our current system of education is antiquated. It is designed to produce workers in and industrial society, not 21st century careers many of which currently don't even exist. The discussion of changing our educational system is not something that I could do justice to in one post. For now let's look at an aspect of education that is within our immediate control to change and can assist in the revolution to improve education in general.
We are in an uphill battle in education. We are fighting TTWWHADI That's The Way We Have Always Done It! Education is rich in tradition however we often hold onto ways that are outdated and in some cases detrimental to our students. I have had many conversations with adults of my parents generation discussing how education was when they were in school. They discuss having to memorize the Preamble of the Constitution, and other facts, never having a snow day, the ruler smacks to the knuckles and other horror stories. Some I find difficult to believe but they do tell the stories with passion. The point being they reminisce about their experiences as being sound educational practices.
There In order to make change we need to first reflect on what we currently do, and what we hope to accomplish. The second part of this conversation should not be done in isolation. To truly understand what our goals for education should be, we need to engage in conversation with other educational leaders. We need to seek out other's to shape our vision for education. Through the examination of our current practices through the lens of where we want to go, we should be able to see areas of best practices and areas we need to improve.
There are amazing conversations about education both the great things happening and ideas for reform occurring daily. These discussions happen in person in school hallways, at conferences on line via Social Media, and in many other ways.
Recognizing that there are so many amazing conversations already taking place, shouldn't there be positive change being made globally? There are a number of issues hindering the positive revolution to reform education.
1. The establishment. There is a large bureaucracy in education that is often difficult to make progress due to the size of organization.
2. Outside forces. Educational decisions are often influenced or made based on powerful forces like legislative bodies, educational supply corporations like textbook or testing companies.
3. Contentment. - There are those who believe that the way things have been are as good as they can or should be. Those who think if it was good enough for me when I was in school, why do students need it today.
4. Lack of Funding.- To create innovation we often have to invest in new or different resources. This is often expensive when you apply the multiplier effect. It is often difficult to get public funding when it is one of the few opportunities taxpayers have a direct say on whether they want to pay more taxes. There is no vote on funding war, or other policies, but there is a vote for education.
5. Lack of cohesive vision.-
There is a definite need for a common vision for education. To revolutionize education and truly change the way we educate and support students we have to not only continue the conversations about the great things happening but to take action. One of the most important aspect of this revolution is the Vision for Education. I have engaged in many conversations about the vision for education. There are many ways I have heard this answered. This is an issue with making the change many passionate educators want to see. We all have our own version of what what that vision should be.
There may never be one agreed upon vision for education, but we need to formulate some non-negotiable aspects of our vision for education. Here are some possible examples:
1. Education must be student centered.
2. Education must be relevant and meaningful for students
3. Education must be engage students as active participants
4. Education must give students voice and choice.
5. Education must develop student skills to be problem solvers, thinkers and creators.
I could add other ideas that should be considered such as rethinking our grading and homework practices. There are still those who think extra credit for turning assignments in early, or bringing in school supplies deserve extra credit. Or those who think we should punish students for not doing homework by down grading them for turning it in late or not at all. Those are topics that people still debate about. These are just a couple examples of why a common vision in education can be difficult to achieve.
It is however worth engaging in the difficult conversations to challenge our own thinking and that of others because each time it leads us closer to making changes in our own and other's educational practices. The real change in education may come through grass roots activities generating large support that eventually grows into systematic change. We must start with dialogue on vision and mission and back it up with modeling best practices for others to emulate.