A common image of the education system is sometimes that teachers, school developers and students are so steered by all requirements and lack of resources and mold on the walls etc that they have stopped caring. The teachers have given up and the students are just checking in physically and barely that.
“A teacher’s day is half bureaucracy, half crisis, half monotony and one-eighth epiphany. Never mind the arithmetic.”
I write because I am passioned and so many with me are that too, especially in school. One thing is sure – every human being is born with passion.
The hunt for the solution to the education “problem”
Based on this picture of the problematic school your politicians will focus on specifics and fix the school. Students should be fixed and then teachers should be fixed, and then maybe even the premises and education pedagogy..? Or is it the weak math results in the latest national tests? Or pethaps to threaten with extra summer school will fix it. Or put the parents in the school bench? Or the most reductionistic solution, everyone that does not fit into the template will try to send abroad. That will fix it! Or not.
No matter how much we focus on details and perform measures we will probably never create any form of measurable change.
We need a total mental change and a way of working based on certain principles of joy, technology/cooperation, the future, freedom and capability for adaptation. That is finding what young people today find joyful.
You can certainly from time to time force “medication” and teach that if you work hard you will get rewards. That is the case (preferably) in regular business life – but it tends more and more be on the employees terms, at least in the northern countries in Europe. Today, reality offers options, not that there are greener fields on the other side if the fence, but there’s no problem going over the fence if a good deal shows up. If only our trained minds could understand the opportunity arena.
Out in society the market rules, your own capability of initiating and some serendipity decides if you are successful or not. Does our “modern” education system mirror that? Does it encourage courage, own initiatives and how is it with the Randomness/Serendipity arena?
Problems are also opportunities
An administrator sees every problem (change usually) as a pain, an entrepreneur sees it as an opportunity. A new way of thinking means A NEW WAY OF THINKING! Not just a change of the drapes in the classroom.
Thinking outside the preconceptions and beyond what you are doing currently is difficult – but we must. We have to dare, we have to believe that there are other realities than the current common opinion and perception created by media etc.
When we’re dealing with systemic errors it’s sooo difficult to think outside the “local” system – situation awareness and sensemaking is difficult. It’s like the fish and the problem with the water:
I see the same caricature of “immigrant populations” painted up as problem areas. Does it happen 100 things in such an immigrant-intense area, it is the burning container mentioned in the newspaper. This applies again probably most to the northern countries in Europe. It says nothing about the new multi-national radio-station, the awesome rockband, the multi-national soccer-team or the four Iraqian elders that has started a cooking course or friend-organisations over boundaries in general.
It says nothing about the heroes, it says nothing about those that manages to break out from powerlessness och hopelessness, it says nothing about the 13-year old that despite of half his family died in the war now is going to be a doctor, it says nothing about re-united families or the love everyone cherishes and the passion they feel every day, for the family and the community and for the future!
The PR-firms are not likely working for school nor the immigrants or “poor areas”.
The real poor areas of the future are those with a lot of brick walls and no sense of community at all.
These “problem areas” (incl school then) is the future of society and we should all recognise this and see reality as it is and not like unsocial mediatries to spread.
And yes, I’d personally be happy to abandon the negative reporting, but I have to protest when idiocy time after time conquers common sense and is allowed to be spread in unsocial and social media. I go mad when I hear about stupid homework assignments, detentions or even arrests occur in school that truly not belongs to a modern or future school.
So how does future school look like? Is it possible to understand that if no one talks about it? All these good examples that is there not for us to see, who describes those and who spreads the stories..? What’s the real situation?
A more nuanced picture
You all in school – bombard us others with the 99 positive stories of the fantastic students, teachers, parents, the wonderful society mix and the passion that’s there – every day! Use social and unsocial media, make films and spread them. And above all show upon the future, get to the edge, let the parents kids come home happy, uplifted, energetic, curious, inspired and make sure their personal hopes fir the future and road-map exists and is nurtured and developes continuously. Make sure they get the chance to enter society and make sure society enters school. Use the caricature, use the problems, visualize, make movies, use Facebook, take pictures, talk messages, communicate, communicate and communicate.
A whole new set of goals for everyone
How would you like the school to be in five years? How are you going to get there? Is it through and by following the instructions of the central national school board, some politicians old opinions or is every teachers internal spirit and the student’s natural forces that can create change? Can parents help or should they just stay away? Can small or big companies help? Local communties, organisations?
Utilize your education community, help each other, cheat, work “under the radar”, take the help of students, former students, retired, unemployed .. Collaborate with other schools, change classrooms, play games, collaborate, cheat in grops, do the tests together, sing together, dance, create and make something of every day!
How are we supposed to have time for all this?
Piece of cake
Easy for me to say, huh? -Yes, it is. But please do come give advice to the work-place I’m at on how we are going to be a learning organisation, how we can make sure we can hire the right competent personnel, develop, be innovative and conquer the world, tell us how to create happy employees a d above all – how can we work with change management so that no-one falls behind? But don’t come dragging with the 5-year plan, the economy control plan and quality management, that is something that we have enough of already. In fact, that’s the first thing we need to change.
How does the opposite plan look like? I’d welcome any suggestions – maybe we can come up with something together? And shouldn’t the education system including all research that is done have some clear answers? Shouldn’t business and industry look inside schools to see the future..? I’m very happy when I find people like this wonderful thinker:
In tune with the present and leaning forward curious at the future as well. I wonder what school and teachers he had.
The analytic people has found the brain
No, there’s nothing wrong with the human brain. But often we end up in conflicts between two ways of thinking in our professional life. The model based on the brain (which works differently actually) refers to functions in the left and right hemisphere. What we need is sneaking in right brain specialities – perspectives, art, design, meaning, the bigger picture in everything we do. The right side is not just something we are supposed to do on leisure time, it’s a natural part of daily life and in anything we try to do – just add the fun and everything will be of better quality!
No matter what the brain researchers say above learning and pedagogy I will believe that freedom and own will is the most important factor and the balancing between focus and perspectives (reflection – standing back from the immediate) is key to efficient learning and a sustainable future.
This is of course no silver bullet but I believe we can end all pointless discussions around school development if we accept both models.
The school does not need to be a conflict. And integration issues does not need to either but if you refuse to give the “footwork” people power and trust you will never succeed. We have to give in for the spontaneous, distributed responsibility and the unplanned – anyone can do anything, or could if they’d been allowed to.
We need to be better on thinking entrepreneurial and to take smaller steps at a time but without losing sight if the vision of the future. Everything does not need to be planned in smallest detail and be controlled in military fashion. We are not dealing with threats, we are dealing with learning, the most fun thing you can do with your clothes on. If breeding of the human race was the critical factor of the development of the human race – how would you go about solving that “problem”?
Play, gaming and life deadly serious
It’s possible to be productive (the more work-related productive), accurate and fulfilling a lot of goals by playing, testing and “Poking the box” (Seth Godin) and by for example letting students try out and do as many cheramic pots they can instead of just focusing in doing one perfect and then produce a better result on the same time.
Derek Sivers explains it pretty well. This every teacher, student, parent and last but not least all old farts over the “I have learned enough”-age filled with old knowledge but with no Internet-knowledge at all, need to apply. Large successful global enterprises has now tried out the own fifth work day for own innovations without requirements and control – and it works, ask Google. They produce more this way. This would be a very good start to introduce – but with overarching rules of course and the chance to present gain stuff of course. Then you would have time to synchronise with reality and maybe begin the communication and create the communication channels with the outside world and maybe most importantly start the communication between generations. Why not let young people inspire old on how to use Internet – pay the bills from Internet, ancestry research, youtubing (publish own old/new films), search music, play bridge, bingo, watch TV, find relatives on Facebook, write memoirs/stories etc. Meanwhile young people can learn and document cooking, synthesise stories from the past and give life to how it was before Internet. Piece if cake – it sure is if you believe so. If you don’t it’s probably impossible.
I do not think the real future school is Utopia – it’s for real. It’s for real people with a love for learning.
Please contribute to change the image of school so that I and many others can help spreading. I need good examples those teaches us on the way forward pointing towards the new happy model of education.