Looking with Fresh Eyes

This blog post ( What is Sacred in Education?) by Kelly Tenkely caught my eye – she is writing about her school, Anastasis Academy, in Colorado. She wrote,

When we free ourselves from the perceived rigidity of the system that we are in, and begin with a clean slate, we are free to see things from new perspectives.

Liberate yourselves by giving your minds a ground zero, clean slate, to begin thinking.

The post is interesting as Kelly describes a little about her school and thinking, but the exercise Kelly suggests is a good one. I have been involved with a school division that has allowed teachers to start thinking like this, and as the faculty at my university considers program change, it would be good for us to do as well. So, what is sacred in education to Kelly? … students!

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Ask the Hard Questions – self-reflection

For too long, school has acted for too many kids as the greatest extinguisher of curiosity. If we are serious about creating lifelong learners, school needs to stop looking so much like school. If we want to make things better for our children, we need to start questioning what we consider to be the obvious.

This is why the most successful parents and educators are constantly reflecting on their own beliefs and practices. They are in a constant state of acute mindfulness.

And it starts by asking the question: I say I want this, so then why am I doing that?

 

If many of our kids dislike school, Joe asks us to reflect and ask why? And I agree with Joe, it starts with each individual, do our actions reflect our beliefs? There are systemic pressures, but change can start with some little things in our own practice. Check out the complete post (You say you want this, so then why are you doing that?) for a list of practices to think about – and links to reasons to change them.

Pockets of Greatness

We have a lot of great classrooms, but we need more great schools.  By having a clear vision and creating environments in all areas, where people can push one another, while also feeling that their gifts are recognized, we can continue to get there together.

This is the closing paragraph from another thoughtful post by George Couros, “The Principal of Change”. George encourages schools to have a vision, plan learning goals, then put the technology in place. As stated in this quote, there are many pockets of innovative classrooms, but they do not seem to be the norm, we need to work together, push and support one another for wider change. George’s school, Forest Green, is an example of that.

Learning is Continous

As educators, we need to stop thinking of learning in yearly segments.  Learning is continuous, along with the process of change and growth. …  When we are rushing to get everything done by the end of the year through our own growth process, that is when things feel like add-ons and we lose our belief in them.  … The tools might be different, but the learning should be continuous and built upon.  If we really believe that an idea is truly  better for education, the process will (and should) take awhile.

Is this not a great way to role model to our students that we are continuous learners?

via georgecouros.ca at The Prinicipal of Change

In this post, George was talking about changes in schools, but the idea can be applied to any and all learning. We chunk learning into units and courses – artificially to fit into some predetermined time frame. I guess some things must come to an end, but learning is not one of them. Although a course might finish or a school year end, the learning does not, but it might take a new direction or emphasis. With our emphasis on time frames and grades are we rushing learning? Why can’t a student pick up and continue where he/she left off instead of starting again? What is so wrong if one person learns something in 3 days and another in 6? As George states this is true of change – which is learning – it needs time to be thought through, take hold and be nurtured, not rushed and abandoned at the first sign of it fading. In my own learning, although the courses I take end, the learning that starts in them continues, the Ph.D. is one step in a learning process, and each course is just one piece of that growth process, not an end in itself. The final statement is also important, as educators, we must be good role models too. How do you live life-long learning?

Rethinking Schooling

Children in Classroom in Keene New Hampshirephoto © 2011 Keene Public Library and the Historical Society of Cheshire County | more info (via: Wylio)

I’m a huge fan of using technology to rethink schooling. But it’s the rethinking that matters, not the technology. What matters is how we use these tools to solve problems smarter, deliver knowledge, support students, reimagine instruction, refashion cost structures, and challenge students in new ways. Unfortunately, in far too many places, educators, industry shills, and technology enthusiasts seem to imagine that the technology itself will be a difference-maker. Good luck with that.

via blogs.edweek.org (When “Digital Natives” Discover the Encyclopedia – Rick Hess Straight Up – Education Week)

Rick Hess makes a valid point in this post. It is a common, oft heard refrain, it is not the technology. We need to rethink and change schooling to both reflect our times and what we want society to be, based on prinicples of democracy, justice and equity. Technology is not the answer, however, it does afford us the opportunity to connect and enhance learning in ways we never could before, but that takes good teaching, reflective & critical thought, not just throwing technology into schools.

(originally quoted this on December 22, 2010 – trying to catch up!)

Change!

If we know that there is a better way of doing something, and we have to change our past practice to make it better, is it that people do not like change or the work that change encompasses?

from the blog of George Couros

Endless conversation about change is the barrier. Actually committing to doing something and then acting is what is required.

response to George’s post by D. Jakes (link above)

Those of us working in education today know what has to be done in order to reshape the teaching and learning cultures found within our schools that have failed to adapt to an evolving world.  We need to lead the change movement through action instead of engaging in what seems to be never-ending talk about the “why” and “how” associated with the process.

The comments above about change in education say a lot. I agree that the old adage “talk is cheap” is true. Many people talk about change in schools, but then carry on doing the same old thing. Educators at all levels are busy people and sometimes it is easier to fall into traditional ways of teaching, however, if we want change to occur, we must act. The conversation is important too, however, as the three people above state, we need to back up the talk with action. As Ghandi famously stated: “Be the change that you want to see in the world” and “Action expresses priorities.” What action are you going to take to make positive change in education?
(quotes from:http://www.brainyquote.com/)

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poster: http://www.flickr.com/photos/datruss/5216340720/