I can’t remember where I read this quotation:
“One of the core functions of 21st century education is learning to learn in preparation for a lifetime of change” (David Milliband, 2003)
Learning to learn, unlearn and relearn, learning to curate knowledge and making links between home and school. These are crucial to a 21st century education. When I trained to be a teacher almost 12 years ago, a senior professor stood up in our very first lecture and told us the following story:
If a Medical Doctor from 1900 travelled through time to a modern operating theatre, he would be astounded, but if a teacher from 1900 travelled through time to a modern secondary school classroom, he wouldn’t find too many changes.
I don’t know the origin of this analogy and I know that it’s not perfect. A patient being operated on cannot really be too closely allied to the experience of a learner … hopefully. It has always provided me with a real incentive to embrace innovation and change.
That aside, reading the David Milliband quotation this morning, noting that it was written in 2004, brought to mind the fact that some of the key texts we refer to today about literacy and literacy learning arose from a meeting of the New London Group in 1996. The pace of change can be slow.
Research demonstrates that the variation, in terms of learning that takes place, is greater between classrooms than between schools.
Ongoing teacher education is an area of enormous growth, huge sums are ploughed into professional learning, job roles are redefined to promote excellence in learning and teaching, technology is increasingly accessible, so what lies behind the variation, what are some of the blocks to change?
Until we really get to the bottom of it, each student cannot have a learner-centric, future focused experience. For every innovative, student oriented, learning space, there are 20 classrooms with serried rows of desks. For every student who participates in a focused and positive learning experience, there are many more on the receiving end of a lesson about [insert subject here]. For each student encouraged to follow their passion in the classroom, inspired to create and build deeper learning experiences, many more spend their days in drill and practice, without seeing the links between the worlds of home and school.
Sometimes it can be overwhelming to think about every student, to worry about every class. Don’t be downhearted. Think about one student, think about one class, stay in the present, share and blog and take risks and be prepared to get it wrong. Change begins with oneself.