Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Future of Learning…What Does It Mean?

I have given a lot of thought recently about how schools educate students.  I believe that there needs to be a significant change in the United States about how we educate students.  This blog post from the Knowledge Works Foundation starts the conversation:

A world of learning

The vision emerging from our study of the future doesn’t much resemble the industrial-era world of schooling most of us know. Instead, we foresee a world of learning where:

• Education centers on the needs of learners, not those of institutions. Teaching is tailored to an individual student’s needs and abilities.

• Learners take charge of their education. Students and families seek out information and experiences from an array of sources rather than depending on schools to direct their learning.

• Children gain 21st-century knowledge and skills – how to make decisions, solve problems and create solutions – through hands-on experiences that cross subject areas and are connected to the real world.

• Success is judged through a wide array of measures that account for different learning styles and assess capabilities and progress, not simply acquisition of knowledge.

• All learners have easy access to technology and other tools that open doors to information and knowledge.

• Learners are supported in all parts of their lives, with physical, emotional and social health being nurtured alongside intellectual growth.

• Teachers are more than content specialists. The teaching profession diversifies to include such roles as learning coaches, classroom coordinators, cognitive specialists, resource managers and community liaisons.

• Learning isn’t limited to a physical place or time of day, but is mobile and constant, with wireless technologies allowing learning anywhere and anytime.

This envisoning for education is a radical departure from what we have today in K-12 education.  However, a radical departure is what public education needs.  I am haunted by the students that are "lost" in the current schooling system because there is no meaning in school for them.  Systemically public education must change.  I will write more in later blogs about this subject.


  1. Agreed across the board. Only think of the hurdles! And by this, I don't mean the ones "they" erect. There are so many people innovating in different ways today. Home schooling is just one example. But when I see someone doing something along these lines... I instinctively cringe. When I look at it analytically, when I think it through, I see the value, applaud it even. But the initial, emotional reaction is what I expect to feel the first time a boy calls the house to talk to my daughter. All of a sudden, it's 1832 and I am spraying WD-40 on the hinges of the gun cabinet.

    Approving innovation is something that's incredibly easy to do in hindsight. But on the fly, it's harder. If you let people give some things a try, some will fall flat. Some will be terrible disasters. Some kids will be damaged. And nobody wants to be responsible for that. The danger with the status quo is that nobody really holds anyone accountable for it. If you can say, "That's just the way things are," you dodge responsibility.

    This will take a lot of courage, a lot of political capital, and a lot of time. But it needs to be done. I just hope I can manage to help it along. Or at least stay out of the way.

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  3. What a perfect school this would be if these steps actually happened but instead we have a school that teaches to a test instead of the needs of the children; where students are disengaged because lets face it some of the teachers just suck. I don’t foresee a future where families are going to seek out extra information for their child’s learning because some parents could care less if the homework is even done. Without effort from home it’s going to be hard for a child to “take charge” of their own education. It’s very important that children gain the knowledge and skills of the 21st century; it’s out there and easily available. However it should not replace the skills and knowledge of the past. All this technology is great but too much technology used in the wrong way does very little for a child’s learning. Any early childhood teacher or elementary teacher could tell you that nothing can replace the one on one contact you receive with a “real” teacher.
    Every child has his or her own story and it’s different from everyone else’s, and teachers need to learn each of their students stories so that they can not only properly nurture but support all the parts of a child’s life.
    To be continued...

  4. Continued...
    A school should be a place where friendships are gained, where acceptance and respect are taught, and not just respect for others but respect for themselves. No child should be without a friend, it makes for very lonely days.
    This doesn’t just happen in the classroom. It starts with the administration hiring teachers for their enthusiasm, empathy, and knowledge, and not hiring someone because they are doing a favor or some other lame excuse. It starts with the administration making the right decisions, encouraging and supporting all the teachers and not just the ones they like. Administration needs to put teachers where they belong and that’s where their certification is, not in a class where they are told they will need to get emergency certified. Moving teachers or having them get other certifications has to make sense. It seems like the administration doesn’t think things through or they are just making decisions to make people mad. Seems like creating hostile situations flow freely from the administration.
    In the past (not the recent past) Ridgway was once a good school, what happened, what have you done or continued? The sign going into the elementary says “where children come first,” maybe children should be crossed out and administration be put in its place.

  5. Great observation about the importance of teachers learning individual student's stories. Very perceptive indeed...