Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Education Transformation: Does Our Message Have Traction?

The image below really struck a chord with me this week:

As educational leaders, I wonder sometimes how removed we are from practices in the classroom.  A revving engine sounds powerful and makes lots of noise but unless you've engaged the clutch, nobody's going anywhere. 

Our district has encouraged the use of technology in the classroom as a tool for improving student success as well as providing pathways to personalized learning.  I was very encouraged, therefore, to see my 11-year old son grab my computer last night, login to his classroom through his school webpage and pull up his blogging assignment.  The class list and blogging template is provided through Kidblog.

There were several aspects of this task that are worth considering:

1.  The blogging platform is free,  easy to organize for the teacher and works seamlessly within the school web page.
2.  It took a few seconds to get to his blog and yet his name and work are protected within a virtual classroom environment
3.  As a French Immersion student, he wrote it in French
4.  He could accomplish the task using any computer or smart phone

I guess the message did have traction.

Have a great week,

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Education Transformation : Breaking the Chains of Causality

Welcome Back!  The theme for my blogs this year will be how, in practical terms, we can move towards Education Transformation.  This is a significant departure from Education Improvement.

First of all, however, there is a tremendous obstacle that often stands in the way of innovation and transformation.  It is like a magnet that constantly pulls us back to the status quo.  This obstacle is encapsulated in the expression, "This is the way we've always done it".  The fact that basically all citizens have the same shared educational experience, makes it that much more difficult to imagine an alternate practice and vision.

In his theory on personality traits,  Carl Jung would describe this type of human motivation as "causality" - that is, driven by past experiences.  At the other end of the spectrum, he also presents the concept of "teleology", wherein we are motivated by future expectations.  Clearly, our education system is firmly rooted in causality.  

Click on image for reference information
Old habits are hard to break.  I recently spoke to one of our school staffs about how we need to switch from WHAT we teach to WHO we teach.  Initial assessments on academic ability as well as conducting interest surveys and building a class community, are key elements that precede and promote effective instructional design and planning.  As I stated in my very first post, knowing your students is the cornerstone.  

As we move towards educational transformation and become motivated by future expectations, it is certainly going to feel uncomfortable.  Having the collective profile of a given group of students drive our planning and direction, entails giving up a certain amount of control and predictability.  Welcome to the world in which we live...

Have a great week,