Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Something Important

Seth Godin has issued a "Your Turn" Challenge to blog for 7 straight days.  It's a thing.  I'm not participating, directly, but I do feel compelled to try to blog more frequently.
One of the prompts Godin used was to write about something important- so here goes:

The short answer is “education,” my chosen profession.  The more complex answer is educational design- how we set up and deliver instructional opportunities to modern learners.  

One phrase that has hit me over the last year or so is this: “The design process begins with empathy for the end user.”  Let’s see how that has played out in the world of education

  • No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was not designed with empathy for students (the end users).
  • The Standardized Testing craze, built on the foundation of accountability, was not designed with empathy for students.  
  • The Common Core (or anything that would replace it) was not designed with empathy for students.
  • The practice of assigning young people into grades based on their chronological age was not developed out of empathy for students.
  • The practice of separating subjects into neatly isolated silos was not developed out of empathy for students.
  • Grading and assessment models that value sorting and selecting over teaching and learning were not developed out of empathy for students

In some of these areas, it’s hard to see how I can do much more than ‘joust at the windmills’ of fighting against legislators who aren’t listening.  However, a lack of progress on that front doesn’t mean all is lost.  Some of these things are within the control of local schools.  

I love the way that Warren Berger uses questioning techniques to drive innovation and thinking. The seemingly simple opening of “How might we….” is actually very powerful.  

We can decide how to group and re-group students throughout the day, how we integrate various subjects together, whether or not we continue to promote the arts, and whether or not we implement innovative programs like the Maker Movement, coding, problem based learning, or Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop.

The key is to focus less on “Why don’t THEY…,” and more on “How might WE…”