I wrote this post to frame a Tweetchat on #bealeader, led by @gingerconsult. The chat focused on the need to transform education and how leaders from all walks of life could be involved in that movement.
Educational reform, educational transformation, what exactly is the difference? What does it matter? Who should be involved in such a process? How do we go about changing what we have and know?
Reform means to bring about a change in order to improve; to make an institution better; to revise, reshape, remodel.
Transform is defined as making a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance or character; transfigure, metamorphose, overhaul, revolutionize.
Engaging in Educational Reform simply uses the current framework and remodels what is already in place or perhaps adds to it. This assumes that the underlying structure is sound, sturdy, has the fortitude to withstand the tests of time and change. It assumes that the basic structure works for most of the “clients” most of the time. It assumes that the educational experience provided by the current system provides “clients” with the necessary skills to contribute to today’s world, succeed in that world, and enhance it. It assumes that the system can support growth.
By immersing in Educational Transformation, we are starting at scratch and providing new creative possibility without limitation of a current structure for something so different and unique that it invites the world to greet and celebrate it, catch up to it, create more of it. Educational transformation invites all citizens to participate in a process that continually morphs as society, culture, and people change. Educational transformation allows for dreaming, innovation, creativity, trial and error, experimentation, and voice to all “clients” and stakeholders.
I believe it is time to take the leap of faith and transform our educational system. To me, this is both a frustrating and exhilarating period in education. There have been so many reforms over the centuries, but no real transformations. It is a slow process to “put the brakes on such a huge moving machine” and morph it into something completely different. It is exhilarating to think of the amazing opportunities there are to re-imagine the entire system! To create something that can continue to grow, morph and sprout without boundaries seems electrifying!
Methods and beliefs about teaching and learning are antiquated and not based upon current research on brain development. The brains we are trying to stimulate and open are different from the ones of even 50 years ago. Brain research adds a unique dimension to teaching and learning. Educators and scientists need to work together to hone the crafts of teaching and learning by using the discoveries as they happen in real time, and what better way than collaborating by using technology.
We have clearer fundamental understandings about the human capacity to learn, grow, change, create, innovate, collaborate, communicate, and design with audacity and freedom. These understandings must become part of our educational philosophy and beliefs about education in order for true transformation to occur. Using this fundamental understanding of the human capacity to learn and grow, work has been done to identify 21st Century skills needed for focus in education, yet we are still operating within an 18th Century system. There is little reason for many in education to innovate as it is not yet supported and sought. Standardized assessments lead to standardized teaching, skills and knowledge. If it is standard, it is not innovative and does not address the needs of the 21st Century INDIVIDUAL learner, teacher, business owner, entrepreneur, system, needs. It addresses only the standard average group.
Relying on trial and error, experimentation, and freedom to think outside of the “standard” are part of the amazing lifelong learning process. I believe that those seeking transformation in education today can be likened to the pilgrims who left their homeland seeking something new, seeking the freedoms that were denied at home, seeking to change the culture within which they were locked. In leaving what they knew, they created an incredible country with an innovative government that provided the freedoms all who had come to settle here desired and one that was alive with growth-oriented opportunities. We must all come together as one to design a system that produces citizens of the world with skills that can be applied in all cultures and in all “possibilities,” one that is free from the standard operating system.
The founding fathers’ original ideas were that an educational system should produce good citizens who had knowledge to make educated decisions about their country, their lives, their society. Now we must produce global citizens who can celebrate all individuals’ uniqueness as well as the positivity and importance of the oneness of humanity. We must produce citizens who can operate within a culturally diverse atmosphere to promote goodwill and Grace, wisdom and connection. We must build a system where people of all ages become lifelong learners with a passion for learning and creating a living, growth-oriented, collective and collaborative knowledge base.
Educators, leaders, citizens of the global world must be part of the challenge in order to facilitate this transformation. This process must include all those who are touched by education and that is all of us. We must all facilitate and lead education towards transformation. We must all take the lead to push towards the 21st Century skills that we know children and adults must have to grow themselves and the universe.
Every citizen needs to be involved in transforming the educational system. We must behave in such a way that we call the transformation forward and support it. We must believe that transformation will be positive for the greater good. We must come together as a collaborative community to transform education to create an ever-evolving human and humane world culture.
The questions from the chat follow: Please feel free to provide your thoughts to the questions!
Q1: What is Educational Transformation?
Q2: How do we build a system where people of all ages become lifelong learners?
Q3: How do each of us lead towards a transformational education for all citizens?
Q4: How can we behave in such a way that we call the transformation forward and support it?
Q5: How do we as leaders push towards the 21st Century skills that we know children and adults must have to be supported within schools and a globalized society?
Q6: What can we do as leaders to get involved in our communities at the local school level?