The Purpose of Education
I believe that the purpose of education is to facilitate a comprehensive growth of the connected community. I recognize that though the majority of growth is driven towards and expected from the “student” population, we should be fully cognizant of the opportunity for growth of the wider communities too.
Education should be a process where learners develop personalized and reflective understandings and skills from all they encounter.
I focus of formal education needs to continue to shift focus toward providing a personalized growth path that aligns with the individual. To continue to expect a group of individuals to do the same thing and get assessed in the same way prompts the question, who is this for, the education industry or the individual?
The idea that education could provide an individualized, differentiated, student directed learning experience in place of a common one is an promising ideal.
Knowing that education’s exiting community will ultimately be the drive for societal development and growth. I feel curricula development needs to continue to move towards reflecting and aligning with our global and societal needs based on the hard evidence before us, the students.
This is no easy ask and needs to remain high up on the strategic plans and agendas of educational environments.
With the explosion of e learning, there are some that question whether or not we will continue to need to build physical school buildings in the future. A titanic debate. I believe that the development of social skills is a major component gained from the physical interaction of going to school. I believe if we are to continue to help develop empathetic, respectful, communicative and caring individuals we cannot afford to disregard our human element. After all, science consider the human being to be a social animal.
I do believe physical learning spaces will continue to evolve as technologies and processes continue to change but will remain an important element in a comprehensive learning experience.
Though the learning shouldn’t stop, education might, and hopefully will encourage:
a communicative literacy
a social and global conscience
an empathy for creativity, expression and the Arts
a respect towards the well being and health of oneself and others
an awareness and respect for the culture and spirituality of oneself and others
a resilient, persistent and self motivated effort towards achieving highest intellectual potential
Teaching and Technology
We all know stake holders within the educational environment that repeatedly question, How has technology impacted education, do we really need it, or is it just a mass expense and increasing distraction…?
I am not going to spend time generating a list of pro’s and con’s and grappling with a possible retort, instead I wonder what would be the response should we suggest the removal of technology from education.
I believe that the learning community would raise concern, to say the least. Technology within education considered anything outside of a critical ingredient is troubling. I am thrilled with a recognition that technology is here to stay. I believe that the communicative and creative options that are accessible via current and emerging technological tools are truly limitless. A motivating thought for education. With large and small corporation’s financial dreams attached to the production of the “right tool for education”. The options available to us will only continue to expand and flourish, being continuously tuned towards symphonic splendidness and potential irreplaceable application. Again, a great thing for the world of education. As industry drives relentlessly towards producing the “golden ticket”. I consider it critical that educational facilities mirror the provision of resources towards the investigation, selection, application, communication, and evaluation of tools that support learning. A strategic ongoing dedication to such support is crucial. Without such support we remain where we are. Not that that is a bad thing. It just seems a shame that we don’t respond to what is on offer. I find it increasingly safe to suggest that regardless of where, or when steps are taken towards developing knowledge and skill, the majority of associated processes align to potential support from an increasing quantity of technological tools. Advances towards ubiquity are realizing it doesn’t matter where we are, or who we are with. Regardless it is real that a technological tool and resource will be available to support individualized progress.
Who might be in control of these options is spoken to in the other sections.
The Learner and the Learning
I wear the responsibility of teaching with pride and a grin. I see time spent teaching as time spent helping others. I sincerely believe this is a great way to spend one’s time.
I reflect on my experiences to date and recognize that my educational interactions have been learning experiences for both myself and the students. So to answer who is learning?, really it’s all involved.
I see learning as an opportunity to share knowledge, stir curiosity, ignite effort, encourage reflection, celebration and communication. I believe that learning should not be scheduled and compartmentalized into subjects, in place I think educational expectations should be identified and met through project based activities that are identified and managed by the students.
In place of students being given a teacher generated worksheet to fill out or respond to, I‘ve always liked the idea of students owning and leading the learning process. Autonomously students should be given opportunities to identify, develop and apply activities and resources needed to secure teacher identified enduring understandings. Alongside learners should own the establishment of essential questions, assessments, activities, resources.
If learners were to own their learning, would likely develop into self sufficient, motivated, experienced and reflective characters?
Within such a environment, teachers and the educational facilities remain pivotal resources, available as identified and communicated by the individual learner.
This ideal has been tried within the Middle School on multiple occasions in a variety of forms, PBL, CBL, STEM. The results have been frequently frustrating and of a surprisingly low quality level. I ponder if this is due to students not being experienced and aware of how to own their learning. After all, they spend most of their time being told what to do, with teacher generated rubrics…
I believe that in order for this type of learning to be effective, students would need to experience these kind of opportunities from an early age. Like they learn how to walk and talk, in their own time and in their own way. Autonomy. Lower grades could scaffold the processes in continuous and age appropriate ways to ensure learners develop skill, knowledge and experience attached to being in charge of what and how they learn.
I recall Dr. Sugata Mitra speaking at an ICT conference in Hong Kong some years ago at which he spoke humorously of his effort towards not answering student’s questions, in place paraphrasing their ask and rewarding what a good idea it was to find out the answer. A gift of encouragement that spurred the curious to try to find out. Grinning he encouraged the need for the students to learn how to learn.
I am aware that establishing a truly student led educational environment is a massive change from how we currently operate and something that spans so many logistics that it is a colossally complex issue. Almost scare-offishly so. Regardless we can try to move towards it as best as we can.
I’m in one hundred percent to try for it.
As a worker, I believe that if our “work” time can be:
progressive ~ in that we experience positive result from time spent
connected ~ to our interests, identified aims and goals
reflective ~ that there is a focus on process, product and quality
appliable ~ there is an empathy towards why energy is being spent
time conscious ~ indicating that suitable time be allocated to minimise stress and maximise development
That all of this is conducted in a respectful, honest manner… great things might happen.
I believe in offering, and accepting responsibility when possible and expect that every effort be made towards achieving maximum quality. Always.
I stand by ideals that quality systems and plans lead to quality outcomes.
I have always insisted on working with high quality systems and strongly believe that when the highest quality is applied to whatever it is we’re doing, resulting growth will reflect and maintain such standards.
I recognise the need for effective communication if collaborative production is to be rewarding and progressive.
We just need the time.
Throughout my 15 years in the Middle School, I hold pride in that I have helped ignite passion, pushed consciousness and facilitated students and teachers towards building new understandings.
It has been and remains extremely rewarding to recognize that one’s effort and time have encouraged growth in another.
Time well spent. I will spend more 🙂