Posted by: drbrucepk | June 9, 2008

The Future of Education

Today, there’s no review of a school partly because I’m just about to move (again, the fifth major move that I’ve done over the past nineteen years) and partly because I’ve managed to come up with some sort of illness that is as yet undiagnosed, but is fairly inconvenient and thus I’m at home away from the Internet and my research base.

All this being said, what I’m writing about today is Education. I capitalized the world Education today because I want to say something about what that word, that concept, that process, that institution, that we call Education means to us.

My friend here at the little school where I currently teach (and by the time this blog gets posted, I may not still be teaching there as my retirement is about to actually happen)) just returned from a trip to Singapore to take a look at several schools that are using the IBO’s PYP approach to education. When he returned, the first thing he told me about was the technology that the schools had as technology is one of my fascinations and has been one of the two main things that have supported me over the past 14 years – that is I’m what’s known in the education business as a computer teacher (I’m going to write more about that specialty next month when I get settled down in Bali).

Back to what Stephen told me.

The second thing that he told me after telling me about the great technology that these schools had was that he viewed these great YouTube videos about education, and in his excitement, he began reeling off quotes and statistics from these two videos. Not feeling well, I only took in a bit of what he was saying, but some of it went like this (and my apologies to Stephen if I’ve processed his words in slightly altered form from the way there were presented) – education is only educating part of the child, a kindergartner today will be retiring in the year 2065 (on a personal level, my youngest child will be retiring in the year 2058), the technologies that we will be using in ten years haven’t been invented yet, education is still working on the industrial model. There was a lot more, but this excerpt will suffice for today’s post.

So, first, you should view these videos if you are a teacher, if you are a parent, if you are a student. You can find them at You Tube. My connection here won’t let me in, but you can put in “Schools Killing Creativity” and “Shift Happens” to see the videos that I’m discussing.

Second, and this was my immediate response to Stephen, I’ve heard this before. I’ve been a member of EARCOS  for the past five years and before that SEATTCO. I’ve attended probably 10 conferences over the past 19 years that those organizations have sponsored for teachers and administrators working in the East and Southeast Asian region. I’ve heard this before. It appears that I said that up above so why am I repeating it. Well, if you’re giving a speech, repeating yourself is an effective way to get your message across. If you’re writing, it can also be an effective way to impress your point on your readers because we tend to read articles like these by skimming – where’s the interesting information? That’s what the reader asks.

Well, the interesting information here is that I’ve heard it before – and so have thousands of other teachers and administrators. The interesting question that follows is – so what? Is anybody hearing what’s being said. Well, obviously some people are, because the world is changing: companies get smarter in designing products, marketers get smarter in selling the products, artist and writers get smarter in creating their works. And back to Education (the capital E education).

Are the people who work in Education, who play with it and who think about it, are they getting smarter? Well, the answer is a qualified yes and no. There are schools around the world that are getting it, that are redesigning curriculum, that are retrofitting schools, that are thinking about what it is that we do in Education and how we do it. That’s the qualified yes. The qualified no? Most of us are not. We’re still thinking in the old way, structuring our schools in the old way, and teaching the old way. I can think of a few schools that aren’t, and I’ll discuss those in later posts. But, more than the number of schools that are what I’m going to loosely call visionary (it’s probably not best word to use, but for lack of a better one at hand, I’ll use that designation for now), there are a growing number of teachers that are coming to have a visionary approach to teaching and to our profession.

These teachers are beginning to move things and shake up the foundations of our fossilized institutions and our fossilized mindsets. But, it’s a long haul and there are a whole assortment of obstacles in the way. Just offhand a few of them are school boards, parents, teachers and administrators. Who did I leave out? Students.

Where do we go? How do we go about it? Those are the big questions. The first big question is obviously the most important. I’ll discuss this more next in later blogs when I get a chance to get settled in Bali once again and have my physical library and my virtual library at hand. But until then, what is it that you think about this?

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