Real Change… really?

Even though I’ve been quite busy lately (leading schoolwide accreditation will do that!) I’ve been thinking a lot about the direction that education is headed. You can easily find proponents of a communication/technological/education revolution… I’m one who gets drawn in easily to promises of exciting innovations. Yet, at the end of the day, not a lot really changes.

Is it just fear? Is it that changes are occurring and it will only be after looking back that we see how much we have actually changed?

When I go into classrooms, I tend to see a very familiar picture. That old factory model of education is still prevalent (what century are we in!?)! Unfortunately, too often, I also see kids falling through the cracks and/or really not meeting their potential. Would a complete shift to a totally constructivist learning model REALLY mean that each kid would meet their potential and be fully prepared for an uncertain, highly technological future? As you can see, I have many more questions than answers.

Deep down, I go back to the central underlying life philosophy I subscribe to. Balance. Kids CAN learn better than they are now. Educators CAN do a better job of educating by blending constructivist approaches with a set curriculum. Best practices point to ‘student-centered’ learning (but, what does that REALLY mean?). So… the students should be directing all that they learn? How about Early Childhood literacy research that shows that “systematic instruction in phonemic awareness and decoding” [Quick, 1998] is necessary? How does that ‘gel’ with the constructivist Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP)?Preview of “Tagxedo Artwork 2-19-13 11-45-11 AM +08-00”

The fact is, there are specific skills and content that students need to learn. We can facilitate that by planning a curriculum that encourages DISCOVERY of that content and those skills but we NEED a shift in thinking to occur! We need like-minded teachers working with like-minded school leaders to take some risks and build it (remember Field of Dreams?). Parents will jump on board as soon as they can see the results.

Now! Where and when are we going to do this!?

Reference:

Quick, Beth Nason. “Beginning Reading and Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP): Past, Present, and Future.” Peabody Journal of Education 73.3 (1998): 253-72. Print.

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2 thoughts on “Real Change… really?

  1. Andrew Aldrich

    Some great thoughts Joseph. I too hunger for real change in schools and at the very least an open conversation about what should stay and what should go in the way we view student learning. I think part of the problem is that many of us in schools don’t know how to articulate the results we want to see in students that are different from what is already being produced. I think if you asked the average student or parent, even teacher, whether their students are getting a good education, they’d say yes. If you then asked, ‘how will the skills your child is learning prepare them for the 21st century?’ You get some blank stares about what that means. So in the midst a desire to change, you’re at least superficially meeting the expectations of the community already….so why fix what isn’t broken?. In other words it’s kind of like the concept of an oil change, it’s supposed to be done every 3000 miles, but the car won’t breakdown if you forget for a few hundred, even a few thousand miles. So the car looks fine and runs fine, but really is due for an oil change before some serious issues occur. It’s timely that you’re in the midst of accreditation because this moment can be the ‘oil change’ your community needs to fix some problems.

    Reply
  2. jlevno Post author

    Hi Andrew! Agreed! It really is a difficult time to know how to prepare learners for the 21st century. I have been seeing some very interesting ideas with ‘open classrooms’ and learning that blends specific curricular goals with exploration and self-directed or facilitated learning. The Montessori approach appeals to me but what I see lacking has to do with a truly thoughtful approach re: effective technology integration. Challenges on the horizon, no doubt! Thanks for your comment.

    Reply

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