Educators throw around the terms/phrase ‘transformation’, ‘digital conversion’, and ‘reform’ when describing what’s needed for the current, traditional education system. Key topics of the day include education technology and personalized/online/blended learning. Virtual reality, mastery-based learning and artificial intelligence are included. The heart of the matter is that to authentically shift practice, engage new tools, and create a learner-centric system, we have to REALLY retool our craft and skill-sets from top to bottom. This demands second-order change and leaders who know and are able to guide the conversion.
In 2017 there is no need to reinvent the wheel. There are many who have come a long way down the road having escaped the past. They’ve created innovative practices that run parallel to what they knew as past pedagogy. Brain research tells us that when adults purposely develop ‘new’ habits, they cause new brain cells to emerge which brings about new, innovative thought processes. These are significant for education today and tomorrow.
Traditional education settings and practices (those from the 19th and 20th centuries) had been indoctrinated across the education ecosystem. Rote routine became a nation-wide ‘habit’. Those habits became comfortable and held anticipated routines. The introduction of ubiquitous technologies and the other key topics above create discomfort and a territory unknown. The new practices align the fusion of knowledge, skill demonstration, career and college readiness, and learner-centered systems with robust technologies.
Researchers from the ’60s found that by puberty, humans’ brains shut down half of their original capacity for collaboration and innovation for problem-solving. I believe that educators who have jumped into the new education frontier have built their professional capacity to such a high degree that their new ‘habits’ around teaching and learning are truly compelling and moving the education profession by leaps and bounds. It is this scenario about which educators speak when discussing ‘transforming’ and ‘reforming’ schools. Retooling and building new ‘habits’ have been crucial to the education industry.
The next iteration of our education system will make good on the core of our mission – to serve learners’ drive to their greatest potential as global workers, citizens, and contented human beings. One can understand the significance of teachers’ modeling of these qualities among their learners. Teachers and principals, those closest to the day to day student connection, are fundamental to positive transitions from the old to the new. They are indispensable for a high quality education system nation-wide.
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