Thursday, November 20, 2008

Does Education Need to Change?

George Siemens' recent post makes me smile:

"As a small research project, I’d like to ask people to answer the following questions (on their blog, in YouTube, Seesmic, or wherever - please post a link in the comments section below):

1. Does education need to change?
2. Why or why not?
3. If it should change, what should it become? How should education (k-12, higher, or corporate) look like in the future?"

I’ve been engaging in dialogue with my PLN about these questions for the past few years and I’m still nowhere near completing my response!

None-the-less, I'll assume this is a point form test, and that there is only one slim blank line below each question. Here are my responses:

1. Yes.

2. Because most present day educational practices are irrelevant, addressing expectations for previous generations, while failing to prepare students for what promises to be a very different future.

3. Education should foster the evolution of a diverse menu of learning experiences. Classrooms should be flexible environments able to adapt to the needs and interests of an increasingly connected student body.

Care to respond? Feel free to add your thoughts below. If you choose to make a blog post of your own, be sure to add a link to your post in the comments section of elearnspace.

Photo Credit: 416style


Alex Ragone said...

I agree with your ideals. So here’s my question. What does this school look like? I’ve been thinking lots about what education will look like in the future, and I’ve observed at a number of models - SLA, High Tech High, and The MET to name three. These are all radical departures from traditional education and I believe pull in some of your characteristics. So what does your school look like? What is the curriculum? What is the structure of the day? What keeps your students engaged?

andy w said...

Sounds like you're asking the same kind of questions that we are at education 2020 ( Of course, there are no definitive answers, only speculations, but would be very interested to hear your opinions.



Deborah Vrabel said...

1. Yes, education needs to change.

2. Why? Because students have changed. Because knowledge has changed. Because change has changed.

3. What should it become? Much more interdisciplinary, reflective, relevant to students' lives, and experiential.

4. How should education (k-12, higher, or corporate) look like in the future?" In my vision: K-12 schools provide learners with an array of well-designed, meaningful, ongoing projects. Those projects benefit from all types of literacy and ways of knowing, including the arts and direct experience of the natural world. Each student, with guidance from teachers, family members, mentors, and experts, investigates the choices and creates a personalized menu that reflects his or her interests and concerns. Students can enter and contribute to a project in a variety of ways and can choose multiple projects with varying roles and depth of involvement for each. Students are encouraged to set meaningful team and individual goals as part of their project work, and those goals become increasingly focused on career and citizenship in high school. However, satisfying curiosity or experimenting with new approaches are worthy goals.

Teachers collaborate to create standards-based, developmentally appropriate challenges within these valued projects and look for ways to connect projects. They document student learning in depth and assess that documentation as a way to advance students further. Teachers learn along with students, engaging in parallel projects outside of school that connect them to experts and professionals in various disciplines.

This vision will require new ways of thinking by teachers and parents, as well as community and global collaboration. But the biggest obstacles are systemic. It will be necessary to tolerate more uncertainty about results. But the way I see it, the sense of certainty felt in a world of standardized test-based accountability and scripted instruction is an illusion.

Rodd Lucier said...

Alex, the model schools you've identified, should be the tip of the iceberg. I really think there is room for a wider variety of schools.

Besides encouraging the use of engaging content and authentic problems, I'm wondering why we each year we place students into classrooms that remain static and self-contained.

Thanks for the link Andy... I'll take a look.

Rodd Lucier said...

I agree with much of your vision... The key to it all is for teachers to see themselves as learners.

The educational system does indeed restrain its own evolution while maintaining the status quo. The Catch-22 is that only people who succeed in the current system, are allowed entry into the teaching profession.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rodd,

You had to know this one was coming...

The very different future is one of bridging the vast expanses of distance and time through the moderation of (mostly) digital handheld technology. Therefore, I agree that practices need to reflect the collaborative spirit of the 21 century digital society but we must also be open to using those tool (be them digital or otherwise) that allow for this type of collaboration to take place.

Rodd Lucier said...


Your right on the mark. That's why policies that lead to poster images like this
and accompanying rules
need to be carefully (re)considered!

Nic Mobbs said...

Rodd, these are great questions, and important ones. I've responded in detail at

Boiled down - we need to change because our students aren't the same as we are...they behave, think, learn differently.