Looking back the democratic changes around the world, where citizens stood up and forced change upon old, stale regimes at great costs, I see some similarities with Educational Reform. There is a great voice that is clamoring to be heard, with many ideas about the future of education, especially how to educate large segments of society through a publicly funded system. As Will Richardson suggests, there are three narratives in the discussion: broken school and move towards reform; not-broken school, need adjustments; current school is irrelevant, needs re-imagining. I also think that the discussion is moving towards a ‘throw private money at it’ versus ‘support of current structures publicly’ debate. To me, the reform movement in education is inspiring. It is giving us the opportunity to re-imagine school as a formalised place for crediting our learning in all aspects of our lives.
The problem, though, is that we have competing philosophies on what schooling and education mean (two very different discussions). Those that feel that teachers are doing an inadequate job of teaching traditional competencies are the loudest voices in this, following the refrain that we need to get rid of bad teachers, bad schools and return to a rigor that has been lost. Hargreaves and Fullan might argue against this in Professional Capital, suggesting that instead we must support all teachers and work towards improving the current system using the social capital and human capital of schools.
However, I believe that we have an unique opportunity to create spaces for learning, using inquiry, personalised learning and formative assessments that give students opportunities beyond what is currently available. With MOOCs (Massive Open Online Communities), social media, and 3.0 web capabilities, we can give students opportunities to find their own meaning in the curriculum. The problem, however, is that we are so institutionally entrenched in a system, that although promotes growth and improvement, has tremendous entropy, preventing the change so many are desperately calling for.
With EdCamps, Twitter and other professional development opportunities, disparate and distant educators are finally starting to talk to each other in a collaborative community. Hopefully, our professional voices will be heard and the result will be an Education Spring!