The last time I checked, it was 2018. If I hear “21st Century Teaching” or something similar again, I’ll probably choke. We’ve been in the Y2K game for nearly 20 years and while Google, Tesla, Apple, Amazon, Uber, Apps, CyberSecurity are zooming at Exabyte speed; Education for most of the US, is stuck in a Draconian factory model.
You hear so much chatter and talk about New Zealand, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, Finland, and Norway as being the leaders in educational models and the frontrunners in preparing students for ANYTHING. Why then, do we still have so much outdated curriculum, rows of prison-built desks, Teachers’ Unions holding on for dear life to save the educators that can’t teach, or teachers waiting 5 minutes for students to stand still in line and have gobs of homework in K-6 schools?
What are we really doing here my friends? I read as many books as I can to learn from amazing educators such as; Sir Kenneth Robinson, Sal Khan Clara Hemphill, Anant Agarwa, Anthony Cody, Linda Darling-Hammond…the list goes on and on. Yes! they are making a difference every day, but is it enough? Can we catch up? Why do we still have students in some schools without internet access, 5th Graders unable to read, or our at-risk youth group growing ever so quickly?
The lightspeed of change in which we live doesn’t look to slow down anytime soon. The books on education are growing exponentially. The “We must do this” talk is hot and frequent. But, we are still drowning in our Horace Mann factory replicas! It must stop!
In pockets of the US, where we have people like Hamish Brewer, Jimmy Casas, Tom Murray, Jon Corippo, Dave Burgess, Alice Keeler, Angela Maiers, Adam Welcome, Eric Sheninger, and George Couros (Canada/US), and endless list of others that bring it every day. The many students, teachers, administrators, and parents that are inspired daily and weekly by these phenomenal men and women who are bursting with ideas, thoughts, must-dos, and energy-filled ways to improve – are just not enough. It takes more.
I reflect on my own impact as a Principal; of 800 students in a TK-5 school. 35 Teachers. Where is my mark made really? We have a district-adopted curriculum – gotta use it. We have a strong teachers union – gotta follow a contract. We have gone from Helicopter to Lawn Mower parents – my kid can’t fail or struggle. So, if my path, or ideas, or leadership style does not match those that I work with, then am I just a Compliance Manager? Get to school on time; don’t yell at the students; let students get up and move; be kind, no homework, behavior charts?, red dojo points…the list goes on and on. My rockstar teachers get it. Their students don’t want to go to recess, or home, and run back the next day. They are loved, treated with kindness, lead in the learning, move, play, are challenged and treated like individuals.
So, I ask you this. What do we do with those educators, publishers, and leaders that aren’t malleable? It begins with our own Secretary of Education in my book. What are they doing in Washington D.C? We have too much disparity, too many without, and not enough young passionate educators that make it through year 3 without burning out. Are our voices and actions enough?
I’m 53, I have a 4th Grade boy and an 8th Grade girl. When they graduate from HS, autonomous cars will be standard, as AI, and White collar automation – who knows? We need more Henry Fords, Steve Jobs, Marie Curie, Wright Brothers, and Stephanie Kwolek in our educational space. How will we do this? What will it take? Keep pushing my friends. Every day. Every Child. Every Instant. Make a difference to more than 1 per day, and ask others to do the same. Maybe, then maybe, we can see a worldwide spark in every child at once.