One of the people I admire most who is engaged in the question of how do we make learning better is Will Richardson. Another is Sir Ken Robinson. Naturally they both are coming to the same conclusion:
The future is not about making school, as it is, more efficient - but to start with questioning school itself in the context of what we all need to be prepared to be as people in the world ahead. What is the right context?
Here is how Will sets up this idea and then we will follow with a brilliant RSA video of Sir Ken arriving at the same place.
"This moment of technological explosion raises a host of important questions for education leaders that speak directly to the way we think about the potentials of technology in school. If we see technology simply as additive, our questions will be about the technology: Should we get iPads or laptops? Does every classroom need an interactive whiteboard? What apps are best to engage students? and so on.
As Larry Cuban and others have pointed out, we've spent billions of dollars on technology that by almost every measure has had little or no widespread effect. No doubt, we've spent millions of dollars on iPads and interactive whiteboards in schools that do little more than deliver digitized worksheets or teacher-directed content to students.
But it's not about the tools. It's not about layering expensive technology on top of the traditional curriculum. Instead, it's about addressing the new needs of modern learners in entirely new ways. And once we understand that it's about learning, our questions reframe themselves in terms of the ecological shifts we need to make: What do we mean by learning? What does it mean to be literate in a networked, connected world? What does it mean to be educated? What do students need to know and be able to do to be successful in their futures? Educators must lead inclusive conversations in their communities around such questions to better inform decisions about technology and change."
Then he makes the key point - there has to be a shift in power - from teacher to student - from school and institution to student and community.
"Sarason (2004) writes that "productive learning is the learning process which engenders and reinfoces wanting to learn more" (p. x). Never has that been more possible than at this moment of abundant access to information, knowledge, and people via the web.
But "wanting to learn more" suggests a transfer of power over learning from teacher to student—it implies that students discover the curriculum rather than have it delivered to them.
It suggests that real learning that sticks—as opposed to learning that disappears once the test is over—is about allowing students to pursue their interests in the context of the curriculum. And it suggests that learning should have an authentic place in the world, that it should be shared with the world. I think John Dewey and Maria Montessori, both of whom saw school as a place for students to do real-life learning around the things that interested them, would be thrilled at the potentials that today's technologies bring to that vision.
That shift—from teacher to student control, from contrived to authentic creation and sharing of outcomes, from covering the curriculum to discovering it—represents ecological change. That's not to say that teachers haven't used these approaches before or that these approaches rely exclusively on technology. But it is to say that now—because of the web, because of how new technologies create new ways to connect, create, and communicate—those changes must become the rule in our classrooms, not the exception.
And with those changes comes a change in the role of the teacher. Teachers must be colearners with kids, expert at asking great, open-ended questions and modeling the learning process required to answer those questions. Teachers should be master learners in the classroom."
It means going from Here
Raises the question of how to pull this off - The answer surely cannot be to create a new institution?
And now here is Sir Ken - who makes the irrefutable argugment for this shift.