Educational reform is the topic of conversations throughout the country right now. In my opinion – it should be. In our current education system, as Sir Ken Robinson states in the RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms (http://edupln.com/video/video/show?id=4241570%3AVideo%3A37773), “We’re (they’re) trying to meet the future by doing what we (they) did in the past.
This point – and a lot of effort, money, initiatives etc. – has been brought to the forefront for many years but we seems to keep coming back to the same problem – no real change ever occurs. This, I believe is a direct result of the fact that we have not engaged in systems thinking conversations at the school, district, state, and or country level. It’s critical that we understand what systems thinking is first and then start to “live” this type of thinking at every level of the educational system. Systems thinking is based on comprehending and addressing the whole, and examining the interrelationship between the parts. There is a focus on looking at the long-term impacts of decisions/planning, analyzing trends, and looking at the system from all stakeholders viewpoints and experiences. A very critical point that Senge makes in the Fifth Discipline is that engaging in the “blame game” is extremely counter-productive and will impede true change and reform. This point definitely resonates with me as this is what our country (at all levels of education) is engaging in right now when it comes to educational reform! Senge also supports 4 other disciplines that are vital to the change process: Personal Mastery, Mental Models, Shared Vision, and Team Learning.
Educators, reforms, schools, districts, states, and governments all need to take a step back and “get schooled” on systems thinking – then engage in conversations about reform. I highly encourage educators and educational reformers to reread Demmings work and Peter Senge’s Fifth Discipline. We need to be the “grass roots” change agents at the school and district levels.
As educators we also need to “educate” oursleves on the global changes in our children’s lives and the trends in our society. Educators need to continue to learn, grow, and understand about the changing world. It is a moral imperative. Progress and change will occur – we need to respond to it in our classrooms and give our students what they need to flourish. We are educating students for their future – not ours.
It’s time to start looking at the current issues in education as probletunities and engage in conversations that really look at second-order change. We’re really not doing much in education that’s different. What we’re doing in education right now makes me think of the teacher that simply “digitizes” all of their worksheets, notes, and assessemts to show on an IWB and thinks that this is change and tech integration. We need to reflect on the thinking of individuals like Sir Ken Robinson and make some true reforms – despite the challenge and learning curve for ourselves.