From educating to learning

Everyone is sitting in this huge room, talking about how school MUST be re-invented, how schools were not made for learning, they were made of educating – better late than never figuring this out … . Or hearing brighter minds shout it from rooftops for years and y‘all deciding to finally admit it.

I look around and what I see is a universe that is completely parallel to everything that is being predicated on stage as leadership, disruption, agency:

  • grey, identical chairs line up in even rows across the room – we are all expected to sit for quite a while and … listen
  • someone up on the stage, talking down (literally) to an audience they cannot even see – why none of the speakers asked the tech crew to turn off the lights so that they could look the audience in the eye as they are preaching about the future, is beyond me
  • mostly white, middle aged or elderly men in suits, slapping each other on the back as they meet again and very sure that what they know to be true is … the truth

It makes me wonder what, if anything at all, will happen in schools represented here today once everyone goes back in a couple days’ time.  Is anyone REALLY going to do away with grades, reports, Chemistry or Math assessments and replace them with empathy readings and resilience comments? Where does one even start – I for one feel like my head is spinning a bit (it might just be the jetlag, I confess) – if you are not as well equipped as the ones demonstrating/selling their innovations onstage this afternoon?

I came all this way fully aware of everything that is being said on that stage, I learned nothing new – and I don’t think I was the only one.What I was hoping was to hear from someone who found and maybe even pulled on the end of this spider web which seems to be at this moment “the way we re-shape schools to match the new world reality.” You know, for the ordinary folks – a sort of a “reinventing schools for dummies” type of thing.

What is the first step in stopping the theft of dreams that schools seem to perpetuate even while the future is being preached as doom and gloom for the current way of educating (versus learning).

While we cannot possibly suddenly trash all schedules and let kids really learn only what they are interested in (talking about ideal schools which one of the speakers was attempting to get participants to engage in a conversation about), what would be the first, simple, to the point, step we could take in the direction everyone is talking about?

I look around the room and realize that it’s really a bith ilarious and sad at the same time: very few, if any, of the people sitting in this huge room, on grey, identical chairs, ordered in straight, even rows, have any idea what that first step is or how to take it.  All these huge concepts –disruption, transformation, agency, slew of possibilities – remain just that, concepts, unless someone takes a leap in one direction and starts challenging the status quo one simple step at at ime, consistently and relentlessly.

I also think we are listening to the wrong people. I think one very basic, initial step (which can be done even when million dollars design centers are not available) should be turning our attention to the main disruptors – our children (I really would have liked to see some on those screens today – you know, kids talking or writing about their ideal school).  How about the next time we are pushed by the internal wiseasses we educated in our school time, to serve something ready-made, on an antiquated platter to our young as learning ( be it in the buildings we call schools or at home – after all, who made learning exclusive to a school-like environment?),we stop ourselves and we ask the child in front of us: “So, how would you go about figuring this out? What are you thinking might work?” and genuinely pay attention to the answers. I believe there lies the end of the spider web. Not in a huge room with identical rows of chairs.

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