So I’m researching something else today (STEM programs) and I come across this report talking about “reinventing schools for the 21st century”.
Guess what you find in that report? “Educators can’t truly deliver 21st-century instruction in schools that reflect Industrial-Age designs, with rigid schedules…. and fixed boundaries between grades, disciplines, and classrooms…”
I’m thinking “this sounds familiar”. Maybe the ideas written about in this space aren’t so foreign. Wouldn’t that be nice.
The report goes on: “measures of learning must include thoughtful assessments of a student’s ability to apply and demonstrate knowledge in complex situations”. INDEED! One of the parents in my office last week, a high school math/science teacher, was bemoaning the lack of thought, creativity and ability to apply concepts to a new situation. Moving beyond memorization and regurgitation.. there’s a goal.
Mirroring my comments yesterday about having long, open time periods for student-lead interest-based work, this report notes that ““it is even more important that class time be elastic. Instead of assigning a certain amount of time for teaching one subject per day, teachers need the flexibility of bigger and more adjustable time slots to truly impact learning.” This is wonderful. The sad reality, though, is that the time lag to get quality ideas into real classrooms is FOREVER, and further, once you take a good idea and pass it through the sieve of collective thinking (various departments, committees and other sundry groups) you end up with something to put into application that hardly resembles the original fine idea. The result is that the shabby approximation that is put into practice won;t actually work well, because it’s a watered down approximation, and so it gets tossed out as a silly idea to begin with and we go back to what we were doing.
Here’s hoping that the voices calling for fundamental change ( see this: fundamental change ) will grow loud enough and big enough that maybe the good ideas will actually make it through with enough of their substance that goodness will emerge.
(The study also talked about integrating technology into the classroom even more and of blurring the lines of the “classroom” so much that virtual learning spaces be integrated. This is fine at some levels, surely not at the elementary and middle school levels. The report can be found here: reinvent schools)