In my spare time (*laughs*), I like to potter about in the garden. While I consider myself a little bit of a green thumb, there are some plants I just cannot make grow. The conditions in my area are just not right. This week I watched a TED Talk by Emily Pilloton on Teaching Design for Change. In the video, Emily spoke about the great need in Bertie County, North Carolina and how changes to conditions was a catalyst for transformation.
I started thinking about the conditions for creating change or the conditions where change becomes possible. There is no doubt that there is a great need for change in education at the moment, just as there was a need in Bertie County. Rapid technological advances are changing what is possible in classrooms by providing opportunities for how and what is being taught. Alongside this, as the world is also transforming, the needs of our students change too. The system of education our schools are modelled upon was born from a need to educate the factory workers of the industrial revolution. This one size fits all, cookie-cutter system just doesn’t cut it anymore.
There is no doubt that redesigning education is complex. Those sitting at the top are pushing down policies, approaches and new curriculum priorities in efforts to cause this change. So why isn’t education changing at a fundamental level? I think it has to do with the conditions in which we are trying to grow this plant. Trying to promote change in the current system of education is like trying to grow roses in the desert. Forcing new approaches into traditional structures resembles the old square peg, round hole metaphor. The current efforts to influence are simply resulting in more pressure on teachers to make it all happen in the classroom leaving little wonder why they are fleeing the profession at an alarming rate. In addition to this, teachers trying to transform their practice are constrained or consumed by continually increasing expectations or even frowned upon for approaching things differently.
So how do we create the conditions that are going to make change possible? Maybe it is looking at education the way a designer might, taking time to consider who the design is for and what it hopes to achieve. It may be time to let go of some of the things we have always done and realising that it is okay to do so. It is absolutely about building the right conditions to make change possible. Even the hardiest plant is not going to grow if the conditions are not right and if we are to achieve the type of change in education that we are seeking, this is where we need to start. If you want teachers to lead innovation, give them the space and freedom to do so. Give them the time and resources to achieve it and trust them to get there. Finally, understand that there is a bigger end game than a grade on a page or result on a standardised test. I am talking about skills and types of thinking that cannot be measured. I am talking about growing something new.
Read all about my thoughts on teaching in the 21st Century, my experiences with technology in the classroom, running a Maker Space, launching STEAM and Design Thinking with students, coding, robotics and much more!
Click the button below: