Imagine you were a master architect and carpenter and I asked you to design and build a house. I told you that you could decide what the house would look like, I could get any materials you needed and money would be no object. Sounds like a dream, right? You’d probably be pretty motivated and eager to start. In fact, you’d probably call up everyone you knew and tell them what an awesome project you were about to embark on. And the house? Beyond incredible!
Now imagine you’re the same master architect and carpenter and I tell you you are going to build 10 houses in the next 5 years. I show you the plans and I tell you the budget. The budget is tight and you’re going to have to stick to the timeline exactly. You’re going to have to work hard in order to successfully complete all 10 houses. You are going to be BUSY!
What is happening in schools today is often more like the second scenario than the first. It is what has been happening in schools for nearly a century in fact. It is what we call the “factory model” of schooling, designed to churn out students who all know the same things and can do the same things. Great, right?
Except we don’t live in a world anymore where books and teachers are the fountains and peddlers of knowledge. Now, all information can be accessed immediately through our devices. Youtube videos can teach us how to do things and we can communicate and share our ideas with the world with just a click.
And guess what? Our children know this has happened. In fact, most of them have not experienced the way things were before. Is it any wonder then, that many of them are disengaged, bored, apathetic when it comes to school? Deep down, most educators know that what we’re doing isn’t working anymore for our students and we know that many of our students are unhappy with school the way it is.
A great pedagogical shift has to take place. We need our children to be engaged in real, powerful, DEEP learning. We need them to be questioning the status quo, working on relevant, purposeful projects that they are passionate about. We need them to be curious, imaginative, and focused on their OWN learning.
Maybe you have heard of some of these things: play-based learning, project-based learning, deep learning, maker culture, experiential learning? All these things have something in common. They require students to engage in learning for themselves, as opposed to being vessels receiving information. They let children start with their own questions about what they are interested in.
There are some people who fear these things. They see them as disruptive, efficiency-reducing, time-consuming nonsense. They believe that these are just current educational buzzwords that are going to fizzle out and everything is going to go back to the status quo.
Fortunately, there are lots more people who are shifting their thinking and their practice. They are responding to the world as it is now, not how it once was. These people are leading conversations in schools, challenging people’s thinking, disrupting the state of our current school system. They are rewriting curriculum, selecting better resources for teachers, and creating action plans. They are sharing innovative practices, helping to bring new technologies into schools, and building networks of educators who are interested in improving our education system.
You know who you are. You’re in deep. Some days you feel like you’re drowning.
Please keep swimming. Our children will thank you.
Dedicated teacher for the past 18 years. Lifelong learner. Newbie blogger. Follow me on Twitter @Baker1973Cathy