Recently I watched a video featuring Sir Ken Robinson entitled “How to Change Education – From the Ground Up”. A big part of the video explains the purpose of public education. He explains the purposes are:
- Economic – Our current system is based on the past needs of industrialism, now we need adaptability and creativity.
- Cultural – We use education to entrench our value systems.
- Social – We use education to engage community.
- Personal – Finally, education is about people.
The presentations brought forth some very good and interesting points, some of them being:
- Children are learners; they do not need any help. Children have a vast appetite for learning. It dissipates when we put children in schools to educate them. The conceit of education is that we can help them to do it better.
- We need to focus on the process of teaching and learning.
- Currently, teaching is a delivery system. It delivers the curriculum.
- Teaching is an art form. The teacher needs to excite and engage.
- Get students to teach themselves. The role of the teacher is to create the right conditions.
- Students are an integral, living organism in the school community.
- For the student – the teacher and the principal are the face of the education system.
- If we are looking at changing the system, first change the micro climate of the classroom. This will lead to the change of the whole system.
- Values change from the ground up. Rock and roll or the internet were not government plans.
- Within education, revolution is needed and it is already happening.
- There has always been a call to go back to the basics in education (reading, writing, and mathematics). For many these basics are the purpose to education.
One part of the presentation resonated with me. Sir Ken Robinson gives an example of the theatre. If you reduce the theatre and get rid of the lights, props, script, and director you are left with the basics – an actor and an audience. If we want to get back to the basics in education, what do we get? If we do not focus on all the “stuff” in education: school timetables, budgets, supervision schedules, curriculum, Continuous Improvement Plans, and year plans, what are we left with? What we are left with is the basics – a teacher and a learner.
If we want to transform, improve, reform, and/or revolutionize education we need to do it from the ground up. We need to focus our resources on enhancing the relationship between the teacher and the learner. I do realize we still need to do a lot of other “stuff” in education, but it does not need to be the focus. We need to focus on the basic element of education. Sir Ken Robinson states, “The heart of education is a teacher and a learner; nothing should get in the way of this.”
Although it is only November, pretty soon we are going to be planning for the 2014-15 school year. A big part of our planning is how we will be implementing the new Ministerial Order on Student Learning and Inspiring Education in Alberta. When we plan, I truly hope we are going back to the basics. I hope we do not focus on all the extra “stuff” in education, but instead focus on strengthening the heart of education, the teacher and the learner.