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