What do you get when you combine PLC's, a book on Creative Problem Solving, the V.F.W, home education, Seth Godin, PBS, and educational models? Let's put them in the Education Innovation blender and find out?
Schools, teachers, and school districts are always asking how it can increase student learning. Teachers and administrators alike ask themselves how we can increase student achievement, increase test scores, and improve teaching.
Grade level and department PLC’s focus on the five questions that DuFour created.
1. What do we want to students to know?
2. How will we know if they know it?
3. What will we do for those who don’t know it?
4. What will we do for those who already know it?
5. How can we use our SMART goals and evidence of student learning to inform and improve our practice?
These are great questions. They help to direct teaching. But are they Catalytic Questions?
Tim Hurson, author of Think Better: An Innovator's Guide To Productive Thinking, says, "In my experience, one of the most common reasons that programs, products, and change initiatives don't work is that the wrong question has been asked." The right question is what Tim calls the Catalytic Question. It was Tim who inspired me to put questions at the end of many of my posts. So, are we really asking the right questions?
The questions that education and DuFour ask come from what I call the “Closed Model of Education”, or CME. The questions we need to start asking are the questions of what I call the “Open Model of Education”, or OME.
And those questions are very different because the questions of the CME above assume one very important thing…
The teaching and the learning will be done in the classroom at a school.
The OME makes some very different assumptions, thus, asking some very different questions.
I view the OME something like this…
OME is about learning, not teaching. When you think about teaching, you limit the learning to what the educational organization supports. Think about it. If I asked you, “How can we improve instructional practices and teaching?” you would come up with choices and answers limited to what can be done at a school.
If I asked you, “How can students increase their learning?” then you are free to come up with any idea that can help a student learn. And students in the OME can learn, anywhere, at anytime, from anyone, using multiple models.
A focus on student learning means that we have to allow for the fact that students can learn at home, on-line, on a job site, in a classroom, at a museum, at a lab, in a factory, and just about anywhere else that a student can think of.
Core knowledge is still essential, but student should be free to come up and seek out other learning opportunities. The OME allows that a student could learn just as well about the Korean, Vietnam, and Iraq wars from a teacher, watching PBS, or visiting the local V.F.W. A student can learn about science in the classroom, but he or she can learn about science at a lab at a local company or hospital.
If student learning is the goal, then no source of student learning is off the table for the OME. While the CME must force fit everything into its highly regulated, top down control, standards based model. I ask you, which is more authentic and aligned with the current realities of the real world?
It simple comes down to the questions we decide as a nation and society to ask and answer.
How can we increase student achievement, test scores, and teaching?
How can we increase student learning?
As Seth Godin says in his book Meatball Sundae…."It’s not an organization, It’s a movement."
Are 21st century skills a solution to a problem that may not exist?
Check out the comment section of this post for a great and lively look at 21st Century Learning.
When Students Design Their Own Learning
ASCD blog. I am a member and highly recommend it.
Digital Education Revolution: School Development Day - Teacher Professional Learning