Monday, November 15, 2004

What's it all about, this education thing?

I sometimes wonder why I am so passionate about education? There must be better things to wonder about or do ? Wouldn't it just be easier to leave it over to the schools? Aren't they dedicated to ensuring all students leave with the joy of learning alive?

Or is it, as Mark Twain said, with considerable insight , 'I never let schooling interfere with my education?'

Are schools the best they can be, or do they need to be 're - imagined' for the twenty-first century? I can think of nothing more worthwhile than to develop schools as places where all students have their passions, interests, dreams and talents enriched. But is this currently the case?

Young people it seems are born with an in-built desire to learn. As some one once said, 'the drive to learn is as strong as the sex drive but it lasts longer', or ought to.

Why is it that so many students lose interest in learning - or is it just that they lose interest in what the school is teaching? Why is it that students who 'fail' at school often become our most innovative citizens? Which students actually do well at school and why? Were schools designed to help all the students who now attend? And why is it that many school successes achieve little after they leave school?

What are the attributes for a successful life - particularly for students entering a changing, exciting and un-predictable world?

What has really changed in our schools - particularly in secondary schools? Are we educating students for our past or their future? Why are people, who want the latest in everything, happy with traditional schools? Has anybody provided real alternatives?

Perhaps it is time to have a conversation about the role of schools in the Twenty -first Century? Most school missions include a statement about realizing the full potential of all students but is this really true?

Up until now reformers have just been fiddling with how to improve our secondary schools. How can we, after we ensure foundation skills are in place, help all students get develop their particular mix of talents. How do students learn? How do we learn? How can we create the conditions for all students to learn?

What is the purpose of schools in this 'brave new world'?

These are the questions that appeal to me. How can we design schools so that all students grow up to have productive lives? It seems too important just to leave to schools - they seem so busy just coping with all the imposed demands. Maybe they are just too busy to change things. As Bob Dylan wrote ( or sang) about schools, 'Some people are the prisoners and some people are the guards!' It must feel like that some times for teachers and students?

Its hard not to want to re-imagine schools? So in the meantime I guess I'll keep on going! Learning is fun!

What do you think?

Can schools be transformed into true learning communities?

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