Education: Shadows of Society

Oilshadows

Pause to reflect…

I wonder if you sense this, that perhaps education ripples as a shadow of society, and now is a target of false criticisms because of faulty expectations that prevent its possibilities and opportunities.

First of all, in this age of “accountabalism” (Phil Schlechty), EL by ASCD), I’m amazed teachers still strive to ponder the possibilities of our teaching profession. This constant testing forces teaching to tests and limits learning. But, teachers of today, who came to the profession because they care about each student rather than each score, do consider their impact and their improvement. They look to the future and frame their own learning to better the the learning of their students. 

So, Paula White wrote one of the best posts pondering 21st Century education in an effort to clarify needed changes: Education: the Past, The Present, and the Future. She had read  Rob Mancabelli‘s post Three New Pillars of 21st Century Learningin which Rob wrote:

The textbook, the lecturer and the classroom are three pillars of modern-day schooling that date back hundreds of years. Each was invented to solve a problem. The textbook was invented because information was scarce, the lecturer because teachers were few and the classroom because learning was local. These enduring icons persist into the Internet age, shaping our view of learning and driving the popularity of their digital grandchildren, things like iPad “textbooks” and the Kahn Academy “lectures.”

Paula noted the dichotomy existing in the education continuum:

“Past: research and recite

Present: research and present

Future: research and do”

These she translated into teacher roles:

“Past: Sage on the Stage

Present: Guide on the Side 

Future: More Experienced Learning Peer Who is Near?”

What a thoughtful explanation.

Next, Paula wrote another post, Education: the Past, The Present, and the Future 2, again quoting Rob Mancabelli on the pillars that support education:

“Pillar #1: “I’m only one of my students’ teachers, but I’m the most important because I teach them to connect to all the others.” Implication area: Instruction

Pillar #2: “My students should learn from me how to learn without me.” Implication area: Curriculum

Pillar #3: “My students’ knowledge lies not only in their minds but in their networks.” Implication area: Assessment”

Paula thinks those pillars (above) are actually the assumptions, and proceeds to suggest these pillars to support instruction, curriculum, and assessment:

Pillar 1–Instruction

The Pillar is actually Learning how to learn; teachers have got to move from thinking of teaching to helping students learn. 

in Pillar 2–Curriculum

I think the Pillar is actually Connecting-relationships, both online and off; connections between what you know, what you need to know and what you want to know.

and in Pillar 3, Assessment, the Pillar is actually Doing–using what you know and what you can learn from the Internet, your network and local and global resources to mix, remix, create content and do something that adds value to our world.”

Paula’s and Rob’s ideas present a timeline of sorts that matches education trends that meet the needs of students and society. The focus of their discussion is mostly on learning, which is the goal of education, to lead to learning. 

Our current emphasis on assessment changes that focus from learning to teaching, while claiming to test learning. Teachers are focused on requirements to be taught rather than on the needs of students in their local community. We are losing our goal of education, to lead to learning. We have moved from the reality of human interaction and relationships into a closed system, stamping individuals (students or teachers) as certified or not, relative of course, to outside requirements. 

And yet educators like Paula and Rob continue to remind us of the reality of society – of the learning realities of the communities around our schools. They have suggested the pillars that support that learning. Assessment is included, but that assessment is more than a test, it is to “do something that adds value to our world.” And that brings the focus back to learning. The student’s project demonstrates learning.

Play to Learn…

Paula and Rob are two of thousands of educators struggling to regain the power of education to transform the lives of our people, especially our children. I am in awe of the work of the people in my personal learning network, and in this instance, attempt to wrap my mind around the ideas and play with them for my own understanding.

It’s the focus on a timeline of learning that inspires me:

In a simple dichotomy, these learning strategies persist through the needs of society:

Past: Research and Recite — an agrarian and factory society

Present: Research and Remix— an information rich society

Future: Research and Refresh— a global, diverse, connected society

 

The pillars that support this societal timeline include:

 

Past— to research and recite needs support through the textbook, lecturer, and classroom.

 

So the curriculum, instruction, and assessment refer to:

Curriculum – Textbook

Instruction – Lecture

Assessment – Recite

 

Present— to research and remix needs the sup
port through internet connection, search and analysis coach, and a connection platform (online or actual space).

 

So the curriculum, instruction, and assessment refer to:

Curriculum – Internet — primary and secondary resources; connections to experts and peers

Instruction – Coach — how to learn

Assessment – Remix — new representation, a transformation of understanding

 

Future: to research and refresh needs support through internet collaboration, debate facilitation, and an action organization.

 

Curriculum – Discussion and collaboration on the internet with global experts, peers, primary and secondary resources of issues and problems

Instruction – Facilitate resources and collaboration of debates for solutions

Assessment – Refresh: Fresh solutions presented and decided in an organizational platform populated with the voice of students

We are transitioning among past, present, and future. Students, if not in school, then on their own, remix their ideas into YouTube videos and Facebook chats. A TEDx Youth Day shared many ideas by young people. Students, facilitated by teachers, have started to move to future pillars and actions by participating in Kiva solutions , Youth Voices ideas, and service learning ( Media Saves Beaches- video below).

Indeed, platforms are beginning to spring up like this Platform for Good

But will educators and educational institutions be allowed the freedom to guide students to learning within the needs of their local community, and learn through those needs?

So, what do you think? Are your schools struggling with accountabalism? What has worked in your school to engage students in learning that matters? What should we, as educators and community members, do to encourage engaged and relevant learning? How do we overcome the negativity towards education in current vogue? How do we move out of the shadows and cause ripples of change in education and in the learning we and students really want and need in today’s society?

 

 

 


More Resources:

A film by Nic Askew. More at Soul Biographies.

Video from KarmaTube

The Flipped Classroom and Tinkering: Authentic, Relevant, Applied learning and resources.

Photo: Sheri Edwards, recreated as oil painting with BeFunky.com

Thanks to my PLN friend, Tracy Watanabe, whose post on service learning popped up in my search, leading to the Media Saves Beach video. :)

2 thoughts on “Education: Shadows of Society

  1. Hi Sheri,Love your post, as usual! There’s been one thing that I’ve noticed as a constant that prevails false criticism over my years as an educator, and that’s for the students to have a voice, make connections, and share with others about important topics of learning. That can’t be done through a sage on the stage, but rather an expert who can guide them on the side. The educator must know how and when it’s necessary to provide direct instruction, still through differentiated approaches, and when it’s more valuable to facilitate and guide students through their own learning and discussion. To balance both, it takes a master teacher who allows and models a culture of educational risk, and fosters reflection in the classroom to allow us to learn from the risks, failures, and celebrations. Without reflection, there isn’t time for change or improvement… which beckons criticisms and stunted growth. Furthermore, when students are reflecting and sharing their learning with their families and community, an awareness grows into support for that type of learning. Who wouldn’t want their children learning things that matter and make a difference in the lives of others? Kind regards,Tracy

  2. Thanks, Tracy. I agree that student reflections shared with families and community helps dispel false criticisms, at the local level. And perhaps if more of this occurred, then parents would be more active and more vocal about their expectations. Of course, teacher reflections with feedback and collaboration with colleagues also promote improved curriculum and instruction. Reflections are part of the assessments. Having a platform to share quality projects provides opportunities for others to use and refine. Your ideas would be one of the "ripples" to move forward. I still wonder, though, how to create a culture that supports such personal and professional reflection in the current expectation of competition and right/wrong tests. Our current model builds stress and fear, yet a culture of reflection to encourage growth requires trust and encouragement. Our schools need to rebuild this positive learning culture, as your district has, Tracy. Your district seems to honor and trust those who entered education to nurture those "aha" moments in each student. So perhaps another "ripple" is leadership: school leaders who enable a positive learning environment by encouraging innovation, reflection, and collaboration as much as testing. Thanks for continuing the conversation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s