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 Learning, in 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:
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?
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.