Opening up thinking about education today for tomorrow - Imagining possibilities and solutions

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Are schools becoming obsolete?

Recently I came across a headline: Schools in developing nations adapting faster to 21st century than rich ones, OECD says.
The claim is made that, in some developing countries, schools may be adapting faster to the changing needs of today.

I have maintained for a number of years that schools and schooling, as we know it (certainly here in Australia) risks becoming a quaint oddity. Schools are places where students go during the day, between set hours, and do particular types of learning at set times.

Somehow the learning is not connected to the reality of how children and young people learn and engage in the world. We know that rich learning happens before kids commence school; that much significant learning happens outside of school structures.

Schools risk becoming fine examples of how learning used to happen in an industrial era.

In many ways schools are becoming obsolete – worn out but still in use (if they aren’t already). This is a term used by Hedley Beare in a publication from iNET entitled, How we envisage schooling in the 21st Century. Much of the political and system energy around schools and schooling goes into public reassurance that obsolete schooling is somehow able to deliver now and into the future.

We are trapped into old imaginaries of school and breaking out of these imaginaries is hard work. The way forward is through networking people, ideas and learning and moving beyond the confines of building, teacher, subject.

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