When anyone asks me, students included, why on earth I became a teacher, I tell them the truth. “I became a teacher to change the system.” That’s why I’m always interested in discussing and debating the future of education. This morning, Dave Stacey, someone I am proud to call a fellow History teacher and UK edublogger, asked some questions:
Why is it that all our pupils do the same courses at the same time, with people who happen to have been born between the same two Septembers as them?
Why is it that school starts and finishes at the same time for everyone?
Why is it that lessons last an hour, and then we all move round again?
Why is it that for all our talk about understanding multiple intelligences, 95% of learning and assessment is written?
Why is it that we try to manage the complicated business of learning by increasing the number of ever tiny boxes to be ticked?
Why is it that at the end of the day, it’s the teachers who leave exhausted?
If the answer to any of these questions is ‘because we’ve always done it like that’ then you’re missing the point
If the answer to any of these questions is ‘that’s how it works’ then you’re not seeing the bigger picture.
We (you and me) are failing thousands of people every single day we perpetuate the myth that is the education system.
I don’t have the answers. But I have some questions, and I think that’s a good start.
Now I don’t think young David really wants answer such as “in the 19th century when the education system was set up, children were needed to gather in the harvest, therefore the school year began when after this had been done.” No no no. :p
What Dave’s getting at is that sometimes you’ve got to completely redesign a system from the ground up. It’s at this point I’d like you very much to watch two videos:
If you haven’t got time to watch the above (you really should find some!) or don’t understand what I’m trying to get at, let me make it explicit: we’re in a period of immense social change (1st video clip). This means we’re re-writing the rules as we go along. Unfortunately, to get to where we need to be, evolution isn’t an option (2nd video clip) – we need to start over to make things better.
I’m not sure I agree with Dave’s implication that learners should leave school ‘exhausted’, but I’m with him all the way on finding it bizarre that in an increasingly multimedia society, we insist on assessments to be done in a written format. We need to be responding to the needs of 21st century learners who will live in a 21st century global society. Miguel Guhlin linked to the following diagram by Scott McLeod today. It’s worth looking at these things, especially when in the throes of the daily grind:
Dave writes, “We (you and me) are failing thousands of people every single day we perpetuate the myth that is the education system.” I agree. And it’s the reason, I believe, why many teachers who could and should change the education system end up as consultants or leave the profession due to sheer frustration. I, for one, am not ‘walking the walk’ as I should be. Thanks for the wake-up call, Dave! 🙂
(image credit: “Studying for class” by jakebouma @ Flickr)