A little while ago, I realized that my original philosophy on education (which I posted here) has changed substantially over the past year. The general themes might be the same, but the objectives of education has changed for me. Where I once believed that education was about the content, the knowledge and skills within subject areas (although this might have been hidden within my beliefs), I now see the role of education is the preparation for future learning.
Where we, as educators, guide students through a curriculum that might not be necessary in their future, the act of learning how to learn will give them the resiliency and drive (thank you, Daniel Pink) to be successful. The knowledge of factoring in maths, naming rivers in socials, and describing events in science all may be required learning outcomes, they are not isolated parts of the learning process. Knowing how to find information, and creatively transform it into new understanding is a key skill for learners in the twenty first century (which is now thirteen years in…). This is why the BC Education Plan around the competencies of learning intrigue me.
In January, I began to meet with students and parents and teachers and administrators. The meetings were mostly for finding and developing a better educational plan for students at risk, or those not being successful in the system at my school. During those conversations, I began to realize that our school was not there to just provide the curriculum of names, ideas, numbers and facts, where students had to learn enough for a credit that went towards their graduation ‘currency’, but were giving students the learning skills for their future. This might seem obvious to many, but it really changed my way of looking at the role of schools.
I used an image of a ladder for students. The ladder was there for them to reach their goals, whatever those goals might be. Our role, as educators, was to make sure the rungs on the ladder were there (or a sufficient amount) so the student could climb higher. Occasionally, there might be rungs missing, but if the student could still reach the next ones, the missing were inconsequential to the ladder’s purpose. Where there were too many missing, we would focus on those to give the student the pathway up they needed.
I guess, as all images, the ladder might also suggest that when there are too many rungs missing, and we push the student to climb when they aren’t ready, they could easily fall off their own ladder to their success. When this happens, we call it ‘dropping out of school’.
I think I will work on this a bit more. Any ideas, comments?