Is It Enough to Just Think of "School Differently"?
Innovation is sweeping through Education. Teachers, Principals, and Administrators are being encouraged to “remake” school. To knock down the walls. To expand the classroom. But what happens when we redesign the facade of school, but the interior remains the same? Are we in our rhetoric about changing the school experience for students not addressing a much more important component?
I’m afraid that we are focusing on the exterior, or superficial, aspects of education, and not the learning that makes up the bulk of a student’s experience. Does it really matter if the school is 1:1? BYOD? Off-campus? SBG? Magnet? Charter? Green? PBL? Game-based? Education has so many tools at it’s disposal to remake school that it’s getting pretty overwhelming.
But here’s the thing, I don’t think any of those by themselves changes outcomes for kids. What will change student outcomes will be the experiences teachers create for students. What will change student outcomes will be how students engage with and interact with the world around them. What’s interesting about the “remake” school movement is that we really haven’t figured out what that means. The question shouldn’t be how do we “remake” school or do school differently, but instead, how do we create an environment for students to create, build, and solve problems that matter. The question should be, “How do we change learning experiences?”
So often I see schools that boast about initiatives or programs that will meet the needs of our students. The philosophy of the direction of the learning isn’t changed though. The direction of learning still comes from adults to kids. Even more typically, the adult world at school is also arranged in an hierarchal manner, which imposes “new” solutions. These attempts may have small pockets of success, but any attempt that doesn’t first address the direction of learning cannot be sustainable.
Instead of trumpeting a new approach, a new schedule, a new policy, focus on the human element involved in the experiences our students have every day. Does every adult in the school community reflect the direction of learning that will truly change not only student outcomes, but also our world? If not, start there. Don’t give us another thing.
Thanks for reading,