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

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Education systems - too narrow and backward looking

During the last week Sir Ken Robinson was interviewed on ABC's 7:30 Report.

I've always liked Sir Ken Robinson since I first saw his TEDTalk, Do schools kill creativity.

The interviews we're shown in two 15 minutes sessions over two nights.

He raises a number of interesting points (as is usual) which caught my imagination.

How can you educate for productive future?

This is a challenge that many schools are trying to address in exploring 21st Century learning. Recently I was working with a Principal who was preparing a submission for a National Quality Teaching Award. At the heart of the schools innovation was the desire to provide learning experiences that prepare the students with skills and understandings to engage with issues facing us today that will shape the future.

We have the power of imagination and capacity to solve the problems that face us.
Kids that start school in Kindergarten this year will be retiring in 2070.
No one knows what 2070 will look like.

Robinson argues that most education reforms are backwards-looking. They are trying to address existing systems that are the result of the Industrial Revolution.

There are some real challenges for the future. Robinson believes that politicians should stop trying to teacher-proof the education system through the curriculum and testing regimes. Teachers need to be given the room to breath and do their jobs.

It was interesting that the same day Greg Whitby (Executive Director, Catholic Education, Diocese of Parramatta) had tweeted:

anyone else frustrated with latest fed govt partnerships model for supporting learning and teaching. No explicit principles underpinning them
He is right (I think). The National Partnerships that form part of the "National Education Revolution" here in Australia lack any real principles of learning and are another political attempt at teacher proofing. The way forward may lie in the National Partnership: Teacher Quality - but I fear not, unless the profession, through organisations such as the Australian College of Educators, takes some leadership over this agenda

The same is true to some extent with the Building Education Revolution that is largely replicating school buildings from last century; or the Digital Education Revolution which is seeing a roll out of laptops in secondary schools. Why not handheld devices?

There is a need for robust conversations around what education should be and could be; and what schools and schooling will look like within that.

The interviews are below:

Part 1 (13 minutes)

Part 2 (12 minutes)

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