Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Thinking About More Relevant Schools and Classrooms...(Part Two)

(Disclaimer - The concerns I have are not just about the school system where I work or the one where my students attend, they are systemic issues that everyone of us who is impacted by the education of our youth should consider.  Oh yeah, we are all impacted by the education of our youth!)

The headline of an article by from Business News Daily caught my attention recently. The article, Creativity and Connectivity In The Workplace by Kevin Kuske, got me thinking about the field of education and what we can do to foster more creativity and connectivity in our students. While I am confident that there are pockets of very creative things happening, I wonder sometimes if we are lacking in our collective ability to connect these creative undertakings in ways that would allow them to have a more significant impact on our students. 

This deficiency is certainly not caused by disinterest on the part of educators, it is due to outdated structures and the lack of experience that educators have had with meaningful connectivity that we have their own learning. Let's face it, the daily experience for many/most teachers is still to plan the lesson independently, teach the lesson independently, and then to plan and administer assessments independently. 

So the fact that "Co-creation is ascending as the new dominant model of innovation, creativity and differentiation" puts a major wrinkle into the previous perception of our role whether we are an administrator, a classroom teacher, or support staff.  This next part is equally problematic for most of us in public schools:
"Creativity, innovation and a strong sense of culture all build off of connections and trust.'

Identity Theft
  Reducing students and staff to a test score is problematic. Flickr photo via Lyn Hilt
Unfortunately, the model that our nation is following for education reform is one that seems is overly focused on linking teacher performance to a a few days of standardized testing. This model, which was not co-created by educators,  will not do much to build a culture of trust. So while I agree strongly that the "coming together in a shared space is still one of the best ways to build these ties" that will allow us to help out students create and innovate, I wonder how we can ensure the following "effective and desirable" qualities are fostered in staff and students as we also try to meet the prescriptive mandates being thrown at us by education policy makers:

  • Their personality comes through.
  • They have the freedom to be themselves.
  • There is passion for their craft.
  • A sense of community makes them part of something bigger.
  • They have meaningful fun.
  • They have a choice on how and where they want to work.
  • They take time to connect.

I'll take a stab at it in Part Three...

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