This post is an edited version of the short presentation given at Teachmeet Melbourne on Saturday 30 November 2013:
I find myself at an interesting transition in life, one where I am trying to look at systems with fresh eyes. What my work-life will look like is too early to say, but at present I am supporting an exciting new project which I believe will make a significant impact on the national discussion on learning. God knows it’s desperately needed.
This week I was lucky enough to be invited along to Creative Innovation 2013, a conference which brings together business, industry, community, government, amongst others. While the ticket price might exclude many people, it did feature quite a number of sessions on education. Stephen Heppell was back again, and as always, made sure he disrupted the thinking of the people in the room about the potential of young people; when they’re trusted. Stephen reiterated that many schools can be (and have been) transformed in learning and culture simply by having better toilets, better chairs, and a shake up of more classroom spaces.
However out of all the interesting sessions and speakers, one comment that has stuck with me was from Steve Vamos, who is the Founding President, Society for Knowledge Economics, Non Executive Director Telstra, Medibank and David Jones, and Former Vice President of Microsoft. He took the floor during a Q&A and lamented that the Australian cultural mindset won’t be shifted until we stop believing that the only way to succeed is to “Be in control, don’t stuff up, and know the answer”. I believe this statement also rings true in the education mindset.
So taking into account the incredible work you all do as educators to influence schools, teachers, or students to change, how do we do that at scale? How do we take one giant leap? Actually I think it’s not a case of asking ‘how’, but ‘when’. So – [I have re-written this into a rhyme, which came to me after the Teachmeet, and has since proven a pretty tricky thing to craft]
When does change become enough to change the way school is organized and structured?
When do we fix the way schools are funded?
When will more schools share programs and resources they’ve created?
When will sorting kids by age become outdated?
When will subjects not be the substitute for schooling?
When did winning mean more learning than losing?
When will maths be just a subset of numeracy?
When did English come to mean the same as literacy?
When will mindfulness and well-being be a priority for schools?
When do we agree not to have rules?
When will we bring others to Teachmeet to help us network?
When will we bring a principal, a parent, an entrepreneur?
When will PD be designed as messy and fun?
When will we have a Kidmeet Melbourne?
When will assessment of learning be more than numbers and dots?
When will teachers be treated not as robots?
When is school driven by learning and not the timetable?
When will we start seeing that every child is able?
When will schools get rid of the bells?
When will teachers show and not just tell?
When did extrinsic factors for learning become the operation?
When will we organise more for intrinsic motivation?
When will exams matter less and examining real life matter more?
When will students not be judged by their grade and their score?
When will we discuss what school reputation means?
When do we be wary of learning through screens?
When will teachers be valued for their role in children’s lives?
When will we interpret curriculum not as a set of rules but as a guide?
When will the school of the future stop being so grey?
When will we just teach the best of today?
When does BYOD or blended learning become features we keep?
When do all these school steps become just one. Giant. Leap?