Why do we continue to congregate students in a building when teachers and knowledge and information are now abundant everywhere?
In a period of time, unparalleled in its international drive to address educational reform, a multitude of discussions are ensuing about how to make the current systems more effective or how to transform systems and schoolhouses into places that are fundamentally different in the way we think, teach and learn.
Within the dialogue, some very difficult questions are being asked, and rightfully so. The value of school, the purpose of school, and what we do in school depends upon how we answer this question, “Why school?”.
Will Richardson (parent, educator, speaker, author, blogger) http://willrichardson.com/about is one of the voices adding a layer of richness to the current debate. He suggests that there are 5 realities that make this discussion acute, non-negotiable and vitally important in his ebook Why School? How Schools Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere, (2012).
- Content is everywhere and there is no longer a need to carry it in our heads. There is a need, however, to find and make our own knowledge and a need to develop the skills and literacies to do so.
- “Teachers” are everywhere with expertise, passions and interests that are redefining the role of the classroom teacher in connecting their students with the world and personalizing the curriculum.
- Data is everywhere and of such wealth that it challenges educational systems to clarify what the role of data is in relation to the goals of education.
- Networks are everywhere and students are no longer waiting for us to deliver curriculum, nor wanting curriculum to be delivered in the way it was delivered to us, when we were in school.
- Anywhere we can learn.
So Will wonders, “what is the value of school at a moment when we don’t really need school to do school?” It might be about the immeasurable element of learning that we find, in part, an answer to the value of schools for this next century, and how we may do school very differently. In his September 2012 Melbourne TEDTalk, Will implores that we need to invest now in understanding the impact of a world, that has moved from a scarcity to an abundance of information, on how we collaborate, build new knowledge and educate our children. He also, frankly challenges the notion of “teacher” and reinforces a new role, that others are equally advocating for and embracing, that being one of lead learner. We need to let go of being experts. We need to ask along with our students questions in which we don’t know the answers. We need to model life-long learning every day in our classrooms. And finally, we—teachers, students, parents, and our communities—need to advocate for change so that our schools are places and spaces for critical thinking, collaboration, innovation, problem-solving, creativity and doing authentic work that makes a contribution to the world.
The HPEDSB 2012 Learning Together Is the Work Learning Fair celebrated, with over 240 participants, the collaborative inquiries that are occurring in all of our schools, K-12. What was so striking from 2 full days of focusing on learning, was the passion and authenticity of experience that lent itself to a conviction of voice, as educators articulated the learning organization they wish for us to become, on behalf of all of our students. One of the most clear and compelling messages from our educators, was this….. we are schools of inquiry and places that are fundamentally about relationships and learning.
Why school? Please join the discussion. Our students are waiting for us to answer this question.