Every morning I put my son on a bus literally across the street (talk about poor use of resources!) and a little piece of me dies. The experience he has each and every day destroys his creativity, his natural curiosity, his imagination, his self-confidence, his individualism. Need I go on?
Our education system is broken. I’m not one of those who gets on a soapbox and blames others. I don’t care whose fault it is. No Child Left Behind. Common Core. The list of people and programs who have contributed is endless. Including every parent who never spoke up. I can’t stay silent any longer. The system needs an overhaul.
Education as a Process
I view everything as a process. Including any educational system, or any component within the educational system. And any process can be split into smaller (more manageable!) parts. With the educational system, I’m looking at teachers, administrators, students, and resources as the big building blocks.
Teachers are the foundation of education. They should be the co-creators, the facilitators, the guides, the mentors. They make it happen. They have been relegated to delivering packaged content, to helping aggregate big data, to creating robots. It really is depressing. Just as students do, teachers need the freedom to design and create.
Create opportunities for students to love learning. Create content delivery systems based on individual needs and capabilities. Create a community where parents send their children to blossom, not to be crushed. Teachers want this. If they don’t, they’re just perpetuating the destruction of our youth.
In any process are gatekeepers. In education, the gatekeepers are administrators. They need to protect our school communities like they would their own children. Not only keep them safe, but enable them, empower them, mentor them, encourage them to fail. They need to encourage teachers to create, encourage students to experiment. They need to enable teachers to innovate and take calculated risks, enable students to enjoy education and find their natural love of learning. Their job is to champion and permit the transition from standardized factories to individualized laboratories. This comes from creating cultures of student-driven learning and of curiosity and of experimentation and of fun.
Students are the heart and soul of education. Although the heart barely beats, and the soul is certainly shattered. Students need to regain their voice. This means taking back control. Education is their experience. It is meant to help them grow, to prepare them for an uncertain future, to provide a safe place for them to experiment intellectually, socially, spiritually, athletically.
Education cannot happen without students. Transforming our education system can happen most effectively by students believing their voice matters, building a collective voice, and reclaiming their ownership of the educational process. Students need to be able to make things. To code programs. Education needs to be learning by doing. Most importantly, education should allow and energize students to learn to learn. Learn how to ask questions, and how to answer questions.
Resources are the least important of these building blocks. The resources that we typically think of are so irrelevant. Buildings that decay. Desks that confine. Books that are outdated. Resources students need are easily accessible in today’s world. Education resources should include those that allow students to self-organize, to engage, to be curious, to be motivated by their peers, to collaborate. A computer, tablet, or some device that gets them connected. Internet access. Writing materials.
The New Education System
Teachers need to create.
Administrators need to protect.
Students need to love learning.
Resources are already there.
Everyone involved in education should have fun. If you touch or are affected by education, are you having fun? I mean really having fun? I doubt it. Let’s create the future of learning. How? Put entrepreneurs in charge. They can transform cities. They can transform communities. They can build ecosystems. They can certainly redesign education – because they are lifelong learners at their core, and they engage in learning more effectively than anyone else. They have to. Let’s give them education to rebuild the broken system.