A fellow and a more distinguished educator in Sweden and I were engaged in a discussion about what an ideal school can mean in context of where we are today. I say this humbly, and emphatically that the relevance of an era needs to be recognized when we define what we do as educators, and I get a bit jittery when people make sweeping statements about what an ideal school should be without a context – Every generation has its path in history, and every era has its purpose. It is called an evolution for a reason!
Both our journeys have been different, she took a more traditional path and has taught all her life, in fact instrumental in inspiring many who have gone on to create a lot of value in their individual companies, of course graduating from reputed universities etc. and I on the other hand, started off in the corporate world to find my way into the world of education with a passion to be non-traditional! As the older and wiser one, she was very certain that all this talk of 21st century learning makes little difference to her life for the role of literacy, coding and math and science – basic fundamental facts are needed to question and challenge. Too much freedom and individualization lead to chaos and confused children.
The ‘rebel’ as I am often called, of course quick to respond questions – “and what if they are not all able to learn ‘facts’? What if they need a bit of motivation and handling and the teacher has no time for ‘molding’, What if they know more and need ‘clarifications’, what if they actually have a point that the teacher misses out on because she had ‘nuts’ and ‘bolts’ to be taught?
The conversation, of course as most conferences in the education circles will vouch for, can’t reach its conclusion simply because there are no right or wrong answers. It is about how the approach taken works for a particular family or the management or how it is put into motion.
For me personally, the ever changing nature of our world, the pressing issues we face and will continue to indicate that we can’t have all the answers to the questions and quite frankly, I am not saying that children should not read or write, I am saying that someone who aces an examination in English, remains incapable of holding a conversation or unable to write minutes or structuring a thought via email is not my idea of an ‘ideal’ learning. So yes, I will say this that i would rather have a thought that sparks a creation that ‘text’ book quotations because there is simply no originality in that.
Of course our children need to be street smart, educated, knowledgeable because that makes them responsible for crafting their careers but why does this have to be regimented? Why does it have to be so structured that when it does get chaotic, and life is like that, children are unable to cope!
I suppose the real crux of the debate lies in the fact that systems will thrive – different systems should simply because they are catering to a need or a requirement in that region or area. And perhaps that level of customization will allow for the next phase – once the ‘need’ is satisfied perhaps the ‘want’ will come into play and that the fundamentals learnt in a manner that are long lasting also allow for creativity and innovation.
Where does your school feature on this evolution graph – work it quickly, for the sake of your children and allow their world to have the presence of traditions delivered with spirit of a new era.
This era for educators simply promises to define and we must capitalize on it now!