Governments across the world are seeking the so-called “magic bullet(s)” to improve the quality of schooling and learning outcomes. Organisations such as the OECD has published studies on building leadership capacity as well as various inititiatives to tackle ‘school failures’. There is also a plethora of other professional associations, systems and sectors who are investing a good deal of resources into the collection and analysis of data on improving schooling. But how does this make a difference to the work that is happening in classrooms each day?
Over the last ten years, there have been many approaches to “fixing” schools. The discourse has been around the need for improvement. Therefore much effort has gone into improving; school administration, organisation, leadership, school design, student capabilities and more recently, pedagogy. These are all important elements and are a part of a complex puzzle. But for me and others such as John Connell, there is a critical question that has to be answered; how do you engage today’s learners in a Web 2.0 world? In other words how do you make schooling relevant?
As I’ve said before, we need to be where today’s learners are and that requires an explicit understanding of how they learn and what they require to engage in deep learning. It requires us to listen to and learn from our students and teachers – those at the very centre of schooling. As systems, we need to be supportive of the work and to faciliate the exchange of ideas and good practice across schools.
At the end of the day there are no seven simple steps to success because the issues are so complex. This is a work in progress in which we learn from past and present experiences of what good learning looks like. It’s about being prepared to engage in the deeper issues instead of getting bogged down by superficial arguments and concerns.
I believe that educators have to change the discourse and develop a new set of ground rules for the ensuing discussion. At the heart of the discussion is an unrelenting commitment by every teacher that ALL children can learn and can experience success through their schooling experience.