Over at the Connected Principals blog, George Couros discussed what he saw as the biggest ‘game changer’ in education: “being open to new learning opportunities, doing something with them, and making that human connection to our learners.”
I would say that the biggest ‘game changer’ in education is the shift from educator control to student empowerment. When we enable greater student agency and put our children and youth in environments where they have much greater autonomy, ownership, and self-direction, completely different paradigms of learning, teaching, and schooling begin to emerge. Digital technologies and the Internet can be vital facilitators of these kinds of learning experiences but, as you note, George, they are but a means to a larger end. As long as we view schools as places where adults do things to kids, the game of school will never change. As Gary Stager says, “Less us, more them.”
Read George’s post and share your thoughts on what you see as the biggest ‘game changer’ in education!
We’re just getting started, but we’ve spent a lot of time over the past few weeks talking about who we we want to be, what we’re going to be about, and how we’re going to do our business. Here’s our thinking behind our new name (and our work)…
- rethink. A willingness to envision something different. The critical move from ‘yes, but’ to ‘how can we?’ and ‘why not?’. #dreambigger
- redesign. Start building something better. Instead of traditional poorly-planned and poorly-implemented change efforts, be intentional and purposeful. If we want a better tomorrow, design thinking, systems thinking, and other structured processes help ensure desired results. All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they are now getting. #designforit
- (go!). Take action. Do it now. Don’t take two years to plan and another three years to roll it out. Try something. Tomorrow. Include a rapid feedback loop and learn from it. Fail and fail again, but fail smarter (and quicker). #perpetualbeta
#dreambigger. #designforit. #perpetualbeta. That pretty much sums up the work of my team and what we’ll be discussing on our blog. We hope that many of you will join us.
Mike Thayer says:
Baker’s complaint about math education (NOT MATH!), as I read the article, is that it lacks a fundamental narrative. That is, we expose our students to “hairy, square-rooted, polynomialed horseradish clumps of mute symbology that irritate them, that stop them in their tracks, that they can’t understand.” We do this for a variety of reasons: it’s on the test, it’s the next unit in the (Common Core) curriculum, it’s what they need to take the next course, etc. We spend no time at all on the great story, which is of math itself and the power we humans have gained by its use. As a result, we produce large numbers of students who (mostly) think of math as that disconnected, irrelevant, annoying, frustrating subject.
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is recognizing 25 schools across America as ‘21st Century Learning Exemplar Schools.’ Today we were informed that 2 Iowa high schools are on the list: Van Meter High School and North High School in Des Moines. Check out the case study of Van Meter. Kudos to both schools and their educators and students!
Graham Brown-Martin says:
why [has] technology, to date, had very little impact on improved learning outcomes? This could be because we continue to use technology to reinforce 19th century teaching practice to meet out-dated assessment models. Most of the world’s curriculum and assessment systems are based around fact recall rather than actually demonstrating that you have learned something and can deploy it within a problem-solving situation.
Kari Webb says:
If you give a kid a fish, she’ll eat for a day. If you teach a kid to fish, she’ll eat for a lifetime.
But… if you let that kid investigate a local fish population, working alongside regional experts in fish management and the aquatic environment – she may develop a love of STEM which will launch a career in sustainable resource management, with the goal of feeding the whole planet.
I am increasingly convinced that an essential component of STEM education is the inclusion of locally-relevant problem solving. . . [T]his is the hook which will capture the minds and the hearts of our youngest problem solvers. We need to match STEM-mentors with teachers and students, and then encourage everyone to jump into the deeper waters of collaborative, student-centered, problem-based learning.
STEM challenges are real, and real challenges often involve failure, messiness, and unexpected complications (anyone who has ever gone camping knows the truth of this statement). The role of the STEM professional is to help students press through the set-backs, ultimately establishing precisely the sort of tenacity (e.g., grit) that Iowa’s future demands. . .
Iowa should cast the STEM-net in deep water, looking for a catch that includes STEM business partners, non-formal educators, and teachers and learners from just about every discipline.
Marc Tucker notes:
The Scots decided that there was far too much testing and the curriculum was overly prescriptive, and insufficiently interdisciplinary. The Scots believe that exams measure only a small part of what is most important in an education, and concluded that over-reliance on them had narrowed the curriculum unacceptably. They wanted a curriculum that was very demanding but very flexible, full of pathways that would enable students from many different backgrounds to excel.
The result was the Curriculum for Excellence, first introduced in 2004, and not yet fully implemented. Descriptions of the Curriculum emphasize the importance of the Four Capacities: Successful Learners, Confident Individuals, Responsible Citizens and Effective Contributors. And they cite the Seven Principles of Curriculum Design: Challenge and Enjoyment, Breadth, Progression, Depth, Personalization and Choice, Coherence and Relevance. Visitors to Scottish schools implementing the new curriculum are struck by the high student engagement they see, partly a function of the highly applied project- and problem-oriented work they see going on in and out of classrooms.
There is considerable emphasis on assessment, but the angle of vision on assessment is very different from that found in England. Rather than tightening the screws on external assessment, as in England, the Scots focus on getting students to assess themselves against the standards, internalizing the standards. They talk about helping students work in groups to develop peer assessment so that the groups and individuals in the group can pinpoint their weaknesses and get better. Assessment is seen as being most useful to a student when it is keyed to their own individual learning plan. Summative assessments are referred to as profiles, a statement of achievements in a variety of formats that can be assembled as an e-Portfolio. The mandatory exams for 16 year olds were abolished.
Realizing that goals like these could not be achieved by ratcheting up the rules and tightening the screws on schools and teachers, the Scots went in the opposite direction, trying to ensure faithful implementation of their policies by enlisting teachers in large numbers in the further development of the curriculum. Rather than laying out a whole detailed plan as quickly as possible and then putting out a very aggressive implementation schedule, the Scots decided that they would implement their new policies gradually, over a period of many years, getting teachers involved in filling in the details of the plan themselves, in piloting the new ideas and then in modifying the plan iteratively in response to what teachers discovered as the implementation went forward. Teachers, in other words, were to be not the recipients but the drivers of implementation.
Ryan Bretag says:
We can no longer claim to believe in the individual student if we continue supporting a system of assessment driven by seeing them as a collective unit meant to be mass produced in the same way at the same time instead of seeing them as a separate learner meant to be uniquely fostered.