Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Time for a new story for the 21stC

  Posted by Picasa It is said that fish would be the last to discover water and the same could be applied to people who lead their lives unaware of the influences that effect all their actions. People who experience the higher atmosphere of our planet and experience weightlessness soon appreciate forces on earth they take for granted.

When we meet people from other cultures we soon become aware that there is a world of difference between what we both hold to be true – that cultures shape our minds more than we sometimes realize.

The more perceptive amongst us have been writing and talking about the idea that the world is currently going through major transformation about how we see ourselves which overrides all the different cultural points of view – that there is a new story beginning to determine the lives of everyone on the planet.

New understandings of how humans grow and evolve are emerging from a range of diverse sources – quantum physics, chaos theory, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, system theory and new ideas about how the universe is now seen as continually expanding. All together they create a ‘new organic living system story’ for the 21stC replacing the Industrial Age ‘story’ which is based on cause and effect, predictability ,and mans ability to control his environment.

Modern scientific thinking had its genesis in the printing press, the renaissance and the age of scientific discovery. The idea powered the expansion of Western Civilization and has provided the world (particularly the Western World) with technological advantages. More recently serious problems, including the very sustainability of our planet, have emerged and a ‘new story’ needs to be understood and acted upon.

The institutions of our current society, including our schools, that have their genesis in the ‘old story’, are now becoming dysfunctional and are creating more problems than they solve.

To prevail in the 21stC we need new organizational forms and new metaphors (stories) that are able to create a global sustainable world and, in turn, flexible and resilient organizations capable of tapping every individuals creativity.

What is required is a cultural transformation.

The 'past story' can no longer energize us for whatever is to evolve. The ‘new story’ needs to be based on a hopeful vision of a better world so we can evolve new ways to live and learn together.

Essentially we are shifting from a machine like, or mechanistic clockwork, model of seeing the world, to one of continual growth and adaptation. The mechanistic ‘mindset’, or ‘worldview’, has led to the Industrial Revolution and the current obsession with rationality, control, measurement and efficiency.

This ‘mindset’ is easily seen in our current fragmented 'one size fits all' secondary schools; students being classified, measured, sorted, processed, and in some cases rejected. This traditional mass education model is now becoming to be seen as dysfunctional. Students thoughts and creativity are being suppressed, their strengths go unrecognized and, as a result, their learning potential is diminished.

A new personalized ‘story’ of education will be needed to solve this crisis.

Humans crave meaning, connectedness, a sense of belonging and deep and meaningful relationships. People of all ages grow best by sharing, trusting others, and by being in environments where it is safe to do so.

We need visionary and courageous leaders to develop such learning communities to develop the talents and aspirations of all students.

For creative teachers, and learners, this ‘new story’ provides exciting challenges; and for the more traditional, the opposite! Schools need to evolve into playful learning environments driven by individual students desire to learn. Students ‘voice’, passions, interests, questions, and their growing identity as a self motivated learners, will provide the motivation. Assessment will based on what students can demonstrate or perform

A new covenant of sustainable personalized learning underpins this new ecological 'story'. Life long learning will be the norm, replacing the ‘one size fits all’ mentality of current earlier efficiency model.

The teachers role will be to focus on creating the conditions to tempt student to undertake area of learning that they might never have considered and to assist each individual on their personal learning journey. In the future students will learn their way into the future!

How long will it take for this ‘new story’ to seriously challenge what currently passes for education. If schools do not learn to escape from the constraints of the past and transform themseves into learning comminities they will find themselves bi passed.

Nothing is certain in this evolutionary world!


Anonymous said...

Be great if schools were to lead the leap into the future rather than always complying to what distant "experts" think is right from their perspective!

Anonymous said...

Schools seem impervious to outside changes - they are headed for a dinosaur end of career!

Anonymous said...

Like fish, who take water for granted, we accept that schools should remain the 'shape' they are because we know no different. Until we question the assumptions behind our schools, and realize that we are running an outdated Industrial Aged model, nothing will change.