As we usher in the back-to-school season, a growing number of parents will have already begun to ask why we still have chalkboards, and desks in rows with the ‘sage on the stage’. Are we able to agree on how we would answer their concerns? Our responses may contain conflicting myths and misconceptions – an indication that no matter what the research says about 21st century learning, many educators still rely on the longstanding assumptions in public education to justify maintaining the status quo – simply because this is how we have always ‘done school’.
In my work, I have the opportunity to meet with many educators developing exciting pilot projects – with tremendous transformative potential – that are sadly never brought to scale as district-wide initiatives. There are thousands of brilliant well-intentioned leaders in Canada pushing the edges of innovation in their schools, but they are working within a system that continues to value conformity, compliance, and control over creativity, risk-taking, and critical thinking. Collectively, we should be forging ahead, but our eyes are too often fixated on the rear-view mirror.
Think back ten years ago… even five years ago. Are you using the same tools to work and to learn now as you were then? I used textbooks and a pencil when I grew up, as do most students in 2013! Why aren’t we providing our teachers and students across-the-board with the tools they need for 21st century learning?
Is the actual structure of education an impediment to innovation? Does the educational system demonstrate signs of organizational wisdom? Does it allow for innovation and risk-taking to occur systemically?
Throughout its history, the Canadian Education Association has served an important role as pan-Canadian convener of education leaders and our conference title/key question – What’s standing in the way of change in education? (#CEACalgary2013) – has clearly struck a chord based on our growing attendee list of teachers, administrators, Ministry of education representatives, and other stakeholders. The unprecedented response has forced us to move to the larger venue to accommodate demand.
CEA wants to build a plan moving forward on how you, in your work, can eliminate the barriers to change in education. How do we collectively transcend old-school thinking? What is really getting in the way of the change that we need to see in Canadian public education? What are the barriers that limit us to change our mindsets about the way we deliver education? What assumptions about teaching and learning are we holding on to? CEA doesn’t have the answers for you. You do though, and we will be collecting your ideas on our blog and on our Twitter feed (@cea_ace) in the next few weeks, which will serve to kickstart conversations leading up to our Oct 21-22 Calgary Conference.
So let’s get the conversation started. Share your perspective from where you sit in the education spectrum about what’s standing in the way of change. And remember; start first by looking at your basic assumptions about education!