Educational Evolution or Revolution? | #edchat Recap

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“The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our (future).”

– Abraham Lincoln, December 1, 1862 –

This week’s #edchatters tried to come up with the two most important questions that should first be addressed in educational reform. The first two questions on the twittersphere were number 1 – What is the purpose or mission of public education today? And number two – Who gets the privilege or responsibility of determining this mission?

Answering these questions would require all parties to develop a shared vision. Some fear that with education being tied so closely with politics this is next to impossible. Achieving buy in including from those often unwilling to embrace change along with the current pace of change have some questioning if reform is truly the answer.

In the following TED video, Sir Ken Robinson echoes some of these fears stating that we cannot effectively change education with reform, instead “We need a learning revolution!”

Sir Ken describes his idea of the second climate crisis, one as severe as the first and with many of the same origins; a crisis he believes we must address with the same sense of urgency as the first – the crisis of human resources. He insists, “We make poor use of our talents.” As a result of our current educational model, many people are being dislocated from their natural talents. These talents, like natural resources, are deeply rooted in people. Educators must create the environments for students to show themselves, the opportunities for these talents to come to the surface.

He urges that reform is of no use to us anymore; “This is improving a broken model. We don’t need evolution but a revolution.” We need to create something new. The difficulty lies in overcoming traditional ways of doing, the traditional ways of thinking and of knowing. Overcoming what we believe to be our own common sense is one of the biggest road blocks to innovation.

Our current educational model, as also argued by Jamie Oliver, has been built on the same concepts as fast food – standardization. “It is impoverishing our spirits and energies as much as fast food is depleting our physical bodies.” Sir Ken advises that we need to move away from this industrial model focused on linearity and conformity to a model more closely based on the principals of agriculture. “Human flourishing is not a mechanical process, it is an organic process.”

Like a farmer, educators must be able to tweak the conditions under which students can flourish. The circumstances must be customized and personalized for every learner. We don’t need to come up with more questions that might help our current model if we could just agree on the right answers. Instead, we need to create a movement in education where people are allowed to develop their own solutions. As Sir Ken states, “Technologies combined with extraordinary talents of teachers will revolutionize education.”

Photo from Wesley Fryer

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