Another school change post, but who’s counting? Tom Haskins’ post today got me thinking about all of the work, the conversations, and the connections we are making in any of the various “2.0” intimations that we are creating. But what are we really waiting for? What are the divides that keep us from moving forward? Haskins points to this:
Schools will change when the need to change shows up in the rear view mirror. The economy and culture will already have made the turn and changed direction without the proper education to do so. The know howto invent new models, enterprises and social constructs will not reflect how the innovators were taught, graded or indoctrinated. The change agents will have gotten their education from what works (evidence based), what seems inspired (unconscious guidance) and what makes the most sense at the time (reflective practice).
My response to this post is below:
I like your thinking here–that systemic change in education will only occur when
there is direct need as seen by the most affected stakeholders. Those
stakeholders are obviously not us. We see the need. In actuality, I
hope it’s the students.
If we have truly done our job of preparing students for life, then (the students) taking hold of their learning might be a natural outgrowth of that. Our system as it is now is set up so
that our students are just passengers along for an educational tour of
content. Until we put them in a position to pilot the tour themselves,
that rear-view mirror will look mighty clear.
Karl Fisch and others noted the lack of student presence at conferences like NECC07, and I am beginning to think that that might be the single most important thing we do in the near future. I remember in college, I was trying to impress a girl, Alicia, I think was her name. In order to impress dulcet Alicia, I participated in something known as a critical mass bike ride to protest lack of cycling lanes in our fair collegiate city. There we were on a Friday afternoon, all 250 of us on bikes, flooding every intersection we came to proving that a large group of determined people could really push for change, or at least annoy some commuters into illicit gestures from the safety of their sedans.
A critical mass of students pushing school systems to change in order to engage them. How does that happen? Terry Holliday via LeaderTalk addressed the need for this shift and characterized it as the most exciting and challenging part of his whole career:
As school leaders, we are faced with translating changing requirements for 21st century readiness that call for more rigor, relevance, and relationships to our parents, staff, and students. In translating these requirements, we are expected to make
changes in systems that have been in place for over 100 years. The
first step in creating change is usually to create a sense of urgency for that change and to relate the change required into “local” numbers and impact. This is hard work and very challenging. It is the proverbial “squeeze play” that
school leaders find themselves in every day. While it is the most
challenging work I have encountered in 35 years of education, it is
also the most exciting work that I have done. We indeed are preparing
messengers to a time that we will not see and cannot accurately predict.
The more I interact with teachers, the more I realize how hard they work just to do the things that are asked of them by the state, their administrators, etc. Having me come in and tell them that they should be engaging the students on a whole other plane is not a soothing moment or one that causes a “eureka” moment. The teachers I work with do want to give their students the best possible chance to succeed as they move through life. I just happen to think it will be the students who determine what it is they will need.