Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sharing teacher 'magic'

The most important resource of all - sharing the 'know how' of creative teachers.
While innovative businesses are recognising that creative and talented individuals are the key to their success ( even survival) schools remain dominated by those who believe in imposed curricula and systems of assessment.
It is as if educator John Dewey ( and his modern day followers) had moved into the business world taking with him his 'learning community' ideas and the recognition of the importance of students interests and Henry Ford had found a new home for his 'mass production' ideas in schools.
In a 'creative era', where ideas are the new 'capital', businesses have had no choice if they wanted to survive. Innovative businesses are now increasingly based around individuals, working in projects teams, continually developing new ideas in environments that encourage risk taking.
You would think that it would be obvious that schools would've been 're-imagined' as places to discover and amplify whatever talents every student has to ensure that their graduates would be in a position to contribute to such a creative society. The first country to transform their education system would have a real advantage but, so far, no country has done so. Schools remain much as they were envisioned in the conformist industrial era - an era now well past is 'use by date'.
In a talent based school environment creative teachers would be the key to school wide success. Such teachers bring 'magic' to their classrooms and, if used wisely, would help other teachers to assist all students to develop whatever gifts they may have.
To develop such a school system would require a long overdue major rethink about the purpose of education.
Currently in New Zealand we have a 'new' draft curriculum which, although signaling real change, still hangs on to the contradictory subject specialism of the current failing system. It does however state that students are to be seen as, 'active seekers, users and creators of knowledge', who , 'reflect on their own learning, draw on personal knowledge and intuitions, ask questions, and challenge the basis of assumptions and perceptions.' the curriculum is premised on all students having the 'key competencies' , or capabilities, to thrive in a 'world where continual change is the norm'.
If this were to be realised then we would need every creative teachers we can get to ensure students are able to do just this. This does not demean the importance of traditional content knowledge but, in the future, students must 'use' knowledge to create their own understanding not just to be able to remember it! Teachers would need to work in mull ti skilled teams to assist their students. The future is about teachers 'designing' tasks with students not 'delivering' curriculums.
Imagine a system where every effort is made to recognise and value every students 'voice' and 'identity' and their particular set of gifts and talents. We urgently need such a 'personalised' approach to replace the 'one size fits all' system 'we' are currently trying to prop up.
Time for John Dewey to regain his rightful place in our school system?


Anonymous said...

The trouble with schools is that they have a captive audiance and those students who 'succeed' ( and their 'successful' parents) have no desire to change things; that about 25% fail is of no consequence to them. No business could put up with such a failure rate - particularly as we now know enough about learning that no student need fail. For failing students what we have is 'compulory mis-edauction' and we will all finally pay the price.

Bruce said...

What would change if schools weren't compulsory and schools had to 'attract' their students because of the interest of their programes? They sure would have to listen to their students, value their opinions, be aware of their interests and change their approaches accordingly; just as a good business listens to their customers. Creative teachers already do just this!

Anonymous said...

Rather than a 'new' draft curriculum what is required is a nation wide 'conversation' about how our education systen can be transformed to ensure all students are able to leave with their talents developed and their joy of learning intact.

This is an issue to important to be left to politicians and the schools themselves.