Change the World.

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I recently read a blog written by George Couros about change and how it’s impossible to get the pace right for everyone. I, not shockingly, am one of those people for whom change in education is not quick enough.

I want our students to learn in the best way possible based on what we know today. Students should learn through play in buildings that look like they were created in this century with furniture made for….you’ve got it! Today.

I would like to see the curriculum re-made from the ground up. No more memorization of rote facts or consumers of content but creation and play. Problem solving. Making. Risk-taking.

Students can be ready to leave school and change the world just like education changed to be ready for them.

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The Future

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) by Celestine Chua

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) by Celestine Chua

How do we begin to prepare our students for a future that we don’t know? Jobs that don’t yet exist?

This is what we face in schools today. This is our reality. Yet we continue to teach this curriculum that looks a lot like the one we learned decades ago that was similar to the one our grandparents learned before we did. How do we truly transform our education system rather than just making little tweeks here and there –adding a computer or a Smartphone or becoming BYOT.

Don’t get me wrong. These are important components. But to truly meet the needs of our students, we must prepare them to be ready to create, communicate, and think like never before. We know from the business world of today that the students coming to them are compliant; but they don’t want compliant –they want graduates who can think and figure it out on their own. Adults who don’t need constant direction. Adults who lead initiatives.

Our schools need change.

We keep saying this, but it will take bold leaders to stand up for our students.

It will take educators to give our schools back to our children.

It will take our country to stop using our students as negotiation tools in politics.

A Present Worthy of our Children

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) Photo by David Truss

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Photo by David Truss

Most of us go through our day as educators and see things we’d like to tweak here and there: maybe a different strategy, a better schedule, a different technology. For me, I’d like to see a transformation of the way we do things. I see us as still looking so much like centuries ago –still preparing our students to be compliant, factory-line citizens rather than problem-solving creators that the world of today and tomorrow require.

1.  Space: sure, many of our classrooms have changed from using desks to using tables. I wonder why we even do this. How many adults work at tables, crammed into a small space with other adults. Is this a place that we would be comfortable working? I work best on my couch with my legs propped onto my ottoman, for example. Not everyone is like me, but if we are to meet all learning styles and prepare students for life, should we have more alternative seating than just tables and chairs.

Additionally, our classrooms are still, well, classrooms. They are rather restrictive with space. The hallways waste so much usable space that could be used.

2.  Speaking of hallways, most public schools insist that students walk in silent, straight lines. I wonder what we are accomplishing with this. If we taught them to walk on the right side of the hallway, and speak softly, they wouldn’t be disrupting classes. I can’t help but think we would accomplish a better goal.

3.  Curriculum: when will we revisit what students need to learn. When Google can tell us every fact out there, we need to teach thinking, problem solving, creation. Everything we know about school truly must be revisited. We are losing our students and time by teaching concepts that they don’t need to know and won’t ever use. I believe that we could be making so much better use of time in school.

Building a School from the Ground Up

There are times that I look around the school building and consider why we do as we do. This could be simple things: why do we start lunch at gasp 10:15 even though we serve less than 600 students (this changed soon after I go a hold of the master schedule –no more brunch at my school!). Or why is the schedule so choppy and some grade levels might not have large blocks of time to teach that they require to be most effective. Then there are the bigger things like the entire vision for the school: where we are headed and how we are going to get there. Sometimes I wonder if we do things simply because it’s how we’ve always done them. Don’t get me wrong; if something is working and has a purpose, by all means, it should continue. If it isn’t, though, what could we accomplish by either tweaking it or revamping the entire thing. I think that sometimes the tendency is to get so bogged down in the day-to-day (which is certainly easy to do in this business) that we can lose sight of the bigger picture and the steps we’re taking to get there. If we consider building a school from scratch, sometimes that answers the question for us. Would we have created the schedule this way if we did it from scratch, or are we doing because it’s easier and it’s always been done this way? Are we teaching this way because it’s best for students or because we’ve always done it this way? Are we teaching this curriculum because it’s what our students need to know in the year 2014 or is it what we’ve been teaching since 1950?

These lead to much more difficult questions. Earlier this year England announced that they will have mandatory computer programming in every grade. Does this mean that schools in the United States are missing the boat by not offering this to the masses? What about 1:1? Today so few districts have gone to this even though we know technology is the native language of our students. How do we find ways to keep the curriculum current with our ever-changing world? These are all questions we as educators must ask in the years to come. We must work together to determine the answers. The answers will be demonstrated in both the curriculum and the way we deliver it.

CCGPS Math

calcThere are so many resources out there claiming to be made for Common Core. I keep seeing them all over Pinterest, but when I look at them, they are often the same old worksheets or rote practice dressed up in something pretty. Often they are computer games that are just encouraging rote memorization which is everything that CC is not. I do have to say that the Georgia training webinars have done a nice job of explaining the purpose of CC as well as why it is so important for our students to get the conceptual knowledge, fluency, and understanding of numbers.

This link is to a Georgia math wiki that includes videos, conversations, and resources that are wonderful for deep math instruction that our students deserve –whether they live in Georgia or not!

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