Almost everyone will agree that education helps to have a better life.
many people would criticize about today’s education system.
Some seem to know what kind of things are needed for the future.
Only a handfull of them actually change the conventional school system.
But is there any kind of specific school model for the future? I think the answer would be NO, and that’s the whole point, because as every student, community and culture are different, the ways to learn and teach are to adjusted to its differences. So is the school design.
In this post, I will introduce one book and one article on re-thinking about school education, then I ask a question (I hope you don’t remember the title of this post by then).
First of all, I recently finished a great book called “Creating Tomorrow’s Schools Today: Education – Our Children – Their Futures” (Richard Gerver, 2014). In its kindle version, I ended up having 109 highlighted passages (and 28 notes) which inspired, taught and/or reminded me something, so I would like to share some of them by dividing three parts: (1) School education (2) Problems and (3) Future path.
(1) School education
- Each school is different and every child is unique. Consequently, there isn’t a single model of this new paradigm of education that will work everywhere. That’s the whole point of this book. The task for educators is to apply these principles creatively with their own communities, to find what works best in their own here and now. It’s the only approach to education that really works, and the only one that ever has.
- In many ways schools, classrooms and learning are a little like casinos. The thing is we don’t gamble with money, but with self-esteem.
- What you teach is really not that important, but how you learn most definitely.
- So here we are in the second decade of the twenty-first century, working on a curriculum that is based on a model at least 200 years old.
- As far as school goes; we are all experts because we have all been there. As a result, we tend to look at what we think it should be, based on our own experience. The problem is that schools cannot be built on what has worked before; because whether it worked or not, it was of a different time. Schools must be built to prepare for the future; to do that we must be sure that they are designed to educate our children, not to serve our own nostalgia.
- In many ways our current system is brilliant at highlighting for children what they can’t do, but isn’t very good at highlighting what they can.
- How often do we hear the criticism that our children cannot take responsibility for their actions? Sadly at the moment our system doesn’t allow them the opportunity to do so.
(3) Future path
- We must ask ourselves: why we are doing what we are doing; who is it for; and is there a better way?
- When children starting school now reach retirement age they will have worked in 18–25 different organisations or companies, compared to the four or five companies worked in by those retiring now
- we as teachers have the pen and paper; the wider community can provide the story. If the story comes solely from teachers, it will always feel like make-believe; if it comes from all of us, it can be real.
- Learning does not need to be painful, a sacrifice.
- How do we turn our school into Disneyland? What would I want to learn if I were 8 years old? Why are literacy and numeracy boring?
- I recall watching the news recently and seeing some ‘teaching expert’ suggest that all teachers should be given performance training similar to that of actors. This presupposes that the best way to learn new things is to have it imparted to you by a teacher. To be told is the pinnacle of learning. You cannot deny that an entertaining teacher is always better than a grey, monotone one (That’s why I studied acting to become a better teacher!!).
The author developed an innovative school model which included curriculum and space based upon communication and interest, culture and well-being, as well as community involvement through a variety of workshops and role-play. Interestingly, this model was developed based on the film animation organisation Pixar, which actively gives opportunities to pursue stuff’s personal interest in order to maximize the potential.
Secondly, there is an example of applying design thinking to school model. According to this, the basic steps of design thinking, which I think can be applied to many other things, are as follows:
- Understand the users.
- Observe the current status quo.
- Define the problem.
- Brainstorm solutions.
- Sketch or build a model of a rough plan.
- Test new solutions.
A school director and his team in this article interviewed 80 community members to understand the situation and needs of the local students and parents, then brainstormed to create a “draft” model (so that it can be modified along the way).
So, with those in mind (school education, problems, future path and design thinking), here comes my question:
What kind of school would you make if you were a school director?
As for my thought, I have to first adjust to the local situation. But the core components will be relevancy, interest, full community involvement, and enjoying learning AND teaching (who said teacher cannot enjoy teaching?).
When it comes to the infrastructure, budget permitting, I would make open classroom environment as well as individual rooms. I also make joyful and productive entrance to the classrooms with news posters, drawing, and/or exercising space so that kids and teachers can feel better by the time they get to classrooms.
Open space classroom (photos: Japan Times)
Well, on a personal level, it was fun to imagine the school design, I am sure every can come up with their own school design.
I think this is a good exercise to think about what kind of school the future generation needs and wants, for ourself and our children. If you haven’t tried yet, please check the previous ones of the “if you were a school director” series below.