Make School Different!
Here are some of the things that I think we need to stop ‘pretending’ in our schools:
We have to stop pretending that:
1. Content matters more than the skills.
Content can be Googled.
Further, writing a test will only work well for those who are good at taking tests.
However, our world is changing at a rapid pace. We need skills to help us think politically, environmentally, technologically, economically, and in terms of globalization. Transferrable skills are exactly what we need. The industrial era is over. We live increasingly within a knowledge economy. If students don’t know how to employ the following skills, they will be at a sore disadvantage:
- research and inquiry skills,
- Problem solving
- knowledge building,
- flexible thinking
- Information literacy
- and connect new and evolving pieces of knowledge together – and the list goes on.
2. It is useful to teach subjects in isolation, on a fixed timetable.
We need to stop pretending that it is useful to teach subjects in isolation. Integration is key, and there are other ways to think about how we ‘cover the curriculum’, and ‘uncover it’.
3. We can group students into distinct ‘learning styles’.
We have to know at this point that it is much much more complex than that, and even if students have preferred styles – the research demonstrates that this does not mean that students learn best using their preferred learning style.
The underlying learning processes for knowledge and skills are still the same. The purpose of knowing about learning styles is to motivate and engage students.
This brings me to ‘engagement’ and the fact that it does not necessarily equate to learning. The fact is that sometimes students can ‘pretend’ to be engaged- (for instance – pretending to read), and other times students may be engaged, but not necessarily learning anything new. Assessing engagement and the learning process certainly go hand in hand. But if we think about growth mindsets and the fact that learning is hard – and that learning is frustrating.
It also requires teacher skills that are far more nuanced than using distinct methods to meet distinct learning styles. It takes time to develop the ability to read our students, and what their ‘eyes’ say over time, the way that they ask questions, the way they answer questions…. We have to stop pretending that this does not matter, indeed, it might be one of the the only things that do.
4. Only the teacher can impart knowledge to the students.
We need to stop pretending that it is just the teacher that can impart knowledge on the students. All too often, we see in our lessons that we are the ones asking questions, getting responses, commenting. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Students learn just as much from each other as in the classroom. In fact, very much of what students will do in class will depend on the nature of the social relationships.
5. Feedback = formal assessment. Formal Assessment = feedback.
Feedback is something that needs to be embedded on a daily basis. Also, feedback comes in many forms – not just a mark, an X or a checkmark, or a completely edited/marked up page of work. Sometimes that is damaging to self-esteem. Sometimes students don’t pay attention. After a test or an assignment is handed back and finished, how many students pay attention to feedback after it is finished? We need to re-think what feedback means and how we make it meaningful to students.
I could keep writing – but I will leave it at just 5 for now:) With that in mind, I will now tag some more people to join in! My apologies if you have already shared!
YOU are officially tagged – I would love to hear your top 5 for making school different!