There are some signs that pockets of traditional education are catching on to the the need for REvolution in education.
At least there’s recognition that the model is broken, “”The current system of public education in this country is not working” said [Kansas City, MI] Superintendent John Covington. “It’s an outdated, industrial, agrarian kind of model that lends itself to still allowing students to progress through school based on the amount of time they sit in a chair rather than whether or not they have truly mastered the competencies and skills.”
Okay, recognition is the first step. This district then takes a small other step by trying to get away from a “grade level” perspective and moving to one that moves with children’s actual abilities- which do not correlate to their age. Echoing a move in some Denver, CO schools, and similar explorations in Maine, the KC district will begin implementing reform where students — often of varying ages — work at their own pace, meeting with teachers to decide what part of the curriculum to tackle. Teachers still instruct students as a group if it’s needed, but often students are working individually or in small groups on projects that are tailored to their skill level.
This surely makes sense, and early results confirm its value. The risk here is that the idea of “learning at your own pace” is but one piece of a larger and deeper change that is needed. It’s a risk because when you implement a broad concept in piecemeal form you loose the beauty of the integrated broad concept. The idea of moving children along at their own pace is borrowed from a developmental approach, like Montessori schools use, but by implementing just one element of a developmental approach or style it is not likely to succeed. It is the integration of all the pieces that makes the developmental model work. If you implement it piecemeal you loose the context and connective tissue that makes the WHOLE work. If the approach fails, as it may very well, it will cause people to throw away the idea as flawed: “we tried it and it didn’t work”. Then the whole model gets ditched and relegated to the trash heap of fad ideas. Try pulling those back into circulation.
The tip-off that this wasn’t going to be the real deal is in the comment quoted above. Mr. Covington eschews “time in chairs” but is only after “competencies and skills”. Not that these are worthless, but they are not all that should be considered and they surely do not focus on what needs to be attended to if we are to have true REvolution in education.
So, it’s great to see that there”s identification of the problems inherent in traditional education, but not having a united and integrated program to implement may be the downfall of the whole thing.