If you’ve been following the musings on bluyonder, you’ll know I’m no fan of the traditional model of schooling. The reason is pretty simple – the structure as it stands drives the learning. Those who have worked in schools will know the timetable controls everything – who learns what, when and with whom. Often in schools, the person who wields the most power is the one who is in charge of timetabling. Get that wrong and the system ends up coming to a grinding halt.
I’m often puzzled as to why we continue to prop up a system that constricts teacher autonomy and limits student choice. I recently heard of two examples that illustrate this point. The first was a Year 9 student who had to put in an expression of interest to take photography as an elective. The school would only deliver the subject if there were a minimum number of students. Needless to say, there was no photography this year. Similarly, at another high school, almost 40 students put their hand up to take a software development class. The school wouldn’t run two classes so they selected 30 students based on grades alone. So much for cultivating interests and passions!
It reminds me of the line from T.S Eliot’s Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock, do we ‘dare disturb the universe?’ As educators in today’s world, we are obligated to disturb the universe. If not, then our learners will never have the opportunities to discover new ones. It is difficult to fathom, in an age of connected technologies, that we are still afraid to step outside the square in pursuit of learning. All of this at a time when we want students to be risk-takers and creative thinkers.
As I’ve said so many times, this is a fundamental challenge to the teaching profession itself. A new age requires a new mindset and a new approach that inspires us to think outside the square.