Stop pretending and make school different. This is my response to the challenge thrown down by my #youredustory buddy Jo-Ann Fox. What do we need to stop pretending that we do? To list what we really need to stop pretending we do is to use a negative lense to analyse the current state of the nation and not my usual lense but anyhoo here are my five things…
1. Stop pretending that authentic student action inspired by real student inquiry is not the epitome of higher order thinking and learning. Give students the chance to change the world, no matter what age. Foster their curiosity, harness their questions and scaffold the path they walk. Our role as educators is to empower the future of the world to care, think and take action. This can be done at any age by any one and especially in an environment that values it.
2. Stop pretending that the structure of the school day needs to be governed by a timetable. Learning is not governed by time, does not flow perfectly and efficiently in 50 minute blocks. It is messy, erratic, an ebb and flow of motivation and needs flexibility.
3. Stop pretending that we bring parents along for the ride. Now this one might not sit well with everyone but I do think that for the majority of school environments, the parents are still kept at arm’s length or at the classroom door looking in. The best schools have the best relationships with their parent community. Their dialogue is rich, two way and all understand the “why” behind each school objective. We need to educate the parents and need to be educated by the parents. They can provide the most insight into “who” their child is and we can educate them about ways to help their children thrive at school.
4. Stop pretending that time is used effectively by schools. Innovation needs time and this does not happen when teachers are overloaded. Be smart with time. Think of ways to create time for teachers to be inspired. Time is the most valuable currency in the school environment and what better way to show teachers how much you value their learning growth (and the subsequent growth of learning within the school) by cashing in a little of that currency.
5. Stop pretending that grades work. As the Chinese proverb goes “the journey is the reward”. Learning growth needs to be the hero. If my understanding started at this level and is now much higher, then this should indicate my “grade” for subject. I have often taught students who achieved a lower grade than another student but who have learnt more. We want to measure what we value and not value what we measure. Some of these students will never achieve an “A” in a particular subject but they would have grown more as a learner. Shouldn’t we value the journey travelled and not just the end destination? The journey carries with it tales of resilience, resourcefulness, reciprocity and reflection and I believe is a much better indicator for learning.
Disclaimer: All of the above are my opinions and not necessarily the opinion of my employer.
I challenge Heather Bailie (@hbailie), Scott Duncan (@sduncan0101), Margo Edgar (@medg56), Aaron Davis (@mrkrndvs) and Celia Coffa (@ccoffa)