April 12, 2014 § Leave a comment
inquiry-based, student-centered learning, where students are encouraged to find entry points into the mandated curriculum in ways that are meaningful to them.
“Knowmadic schooling”, “Design thinking”, “the Maker Movement” (the three key ideas of education reformers Will Richardson) are spot-on, as a shift in emphasis away from learning and more on discovering.
‘There’s not much I need you for when it comes to my child learning something’, Richardson said to teachers.
But beyond these general, and very sound, principles (and, arguably, getting all decision-makers to agree on such sets of principles already represents a challenge), most parents would probably be swayed by a more precise, bread-and-butter discussion on issues such as
- school curriculum
- class sizes
- discipline policy
- homework policy
Speaking from personal experience, most parents remain wide-eyed at the prospect of education reform and speechless when innovative concepts are thrown at them. If they can be persuaded (and they should, there are lots of arguments and examples to use!) that such reform
- does not “dumb down” the curriculum (the fear of the “splendidly creative ignoramus”), but addresses, in concrete terms, how it needs to evolve in the 21st century;
- that there is adequate material support for creativity and reflexivity in the classroom (the fear of children playing at computers while the lone teacher, sweating it out, goes the round),
- that there are clear guidelines on ways of engagement between students and teachers (discipline the wrong word here; but processes of discussion should be laid bare),
- that workload is explained, that it is real, and that this reform is not guided by rosy-tinted scenarios of a future where work is all galloping around on some sun-kissed hills like gentle lambs;