What’s our biggest challenge?

curriculum.jpgGovernments 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.  


5 thoughts on “What’s our biggest challenge?

  1. Greg, I agree that the business of effective education has and always will be a complex one. There is no doubt that the Web 2.0 world has shifted the notion of information and knowledge management and also ushered in a generation of kids who relate to each other and society in somewhat different ways than in the past. Playing devil’s advocate however, are you not guilty of the same’magic bullet’ approach’? Engagement is critical as you suggest but engagement for what? To my mind as important as the work of making schooling as relevant as we can is the notion of why are we doing it.I believe the the discourse has to start with what do we want our kids to be like when they finish schooling- eg life long learners, good citizens, informed individuals, tolerant, with a core of common knowledge and skills or whatever it may be. Starting from that basis the ‘what’ of education and the ‘how’ become more focused and purposeful. I don’t disagree with what a big challenge relevance is but I think purpose is an equally big issue.

  2. I agree with you John. Engagement, even the engagement of Web 2.0, is only relevant where it promotes and commits our students to being reflective, critical thinkers, able to find and use information effectively and ethically, and able to absorb common and core knowledge in order to build and contribute to human knowledge and understanding. You engage learners in a Web 2.0 world by recognizing their multimodal way of thinking and being – not for the sake of the Web 2.0 gimmick but for the sake of attracting and absorbing the interest of our young learners. Deep thinking has always been around – from Socrates to the 21st century. It’s how we get to encourage deep thinking that has radically changed in our multimedia/multimodal world.

  3. I’m on the same page as you and Judy o n this John. I never believed in the magic bullet approach nor have I promoted it. From the very beginning for me its always been about learning. This is the central issue. It seems to me from my recent experience this message is getting traction in the education community. And it is largely because we are developing a language and a narrative to replace the former models. Judy’s words around multimedia/multi modal provide such a platform.
    Every since the first classrooms were built, there have been tools that teachers use as they go about the craft of teaching. This is the same today. The tools have never been the issue. As the world changes we have to respond in different ways, not just add more or cut more.

  4. Education is a universal language and I believe that we can learn so much from each other. I don’t think Australia should be scared to approach high level education providing countries such as The Netherlands or Norway. If we can implement a system like they have but brings core values and what we need for Australia then maybe we can go in the right direction.

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