School as an Extention of Life

Educational Reform. This concept is becoming ‘old thinking’. Many experts have deemed that ‘reforming’ the forms and structures that we have for education is flawed. What education needs is new forms; the implementation of new thinking and instructional design to prepare students for a world of continual change.  Tweaking the old is not going to provide the depth of transformation that is needed. Dr. Heidi Jacobs, an internationally recognized expert in the fields of curriculum and instruction discusses curriculum, schedules, and plans as preparing our kids to “time travel back to testing.” What we need in education is new forms.

As an educator, I have witnessed what testing culture does to pedagogy. It seems the higher the grades, the greater the effects. Many times I have heard that inquiry, infusing new forms of technology, or even doing a student research project is ‘not possible,’ as it does not leave time to cover curriculum. What? Where does that leave our students as they go out into a world where ‘test taking’ is not an employable skill? Governments and school based organizations, in the past, have defended standardized tests as a means to ensure curriculum is covered and teachers are doing their job. Some have suggested marrying standardized tests scores to merit pay. This is old, circular and conservative thinking that supports old forms and structures of education. A system we know will not prepare students to be successful in the future. New forms are needed!

I have heard the same arguments given for implementing inquiry based learning. No time, demands of the curriculum, and the dreaded skills argument: students need to learn to read and write first. That is why I was delighted to discover and share Marjorie Henningen’s TED Talks, “Young Children are Competent.” Great, concrete examples of how to successfully support children to ask questions, research, deliberate, and create new understandings. Deep, authentic, connected learning; complete will literacy and mathematical skill development.

I agree with Dr. Jacobs. Most teachers want to bring in new forms of learning and technology.  They want to explore rich, relevant learning questions and experiences with their students. They want student curiosity and engagement to drive the learning process. Connected and authentic learning.  Just has Marjorie Henningen shares, school should not be this ‘other’ space that prepares them for life but should be an extension of life. Task design that supports relevant learning as an extension of the world students live in.  Isn’t that the foundation for life long learning?

photo credit: tanakawho via photopin cc


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