Put your hand up if you hated the repetitive restrictions imposed on you at school. Put your hand up if you hated exercises that forced you to identify as part of one group or another. Put your hand up if you hated being asked to put your hand up.
Yes, I thought so. This is why schools are failing our kids. The education system is a cumbersome, monolithic beast that shifts and shuffles to a bureaucratic beat trapping schools within its power struggles. In its quest to categorise students into neat little bands, education systems seem to forget students are individual learners with multiple skill sets (many of which fall outside traditional understandings of being ‘educated’).
Today’s learners require more; you deserve more. You deserve a learning environment that appreciates individuality, awards creativity and recognises the skills required to survive in a world of rapid change. To flourish within a modern world, today’s learners need the opportunity to develop a flexible, courageous, creative mindset that is powered internally. They need to be aware of the choices they make and willingly take responsibility for their actions.
Therefore, rather than ‘educating’ students and imposing ‘top down’ lessons that tell them what they need to know, we need to support students as they learn to become learners. In the words of Pink Floyd, “We don’t need no education. We don’t need no thought control.”
Rather than educating our kids, we need to teach them how to learn.
As an English teacher, I believe the key to learning is literacy. However I am not simply talking about an ability to consume words on a page and regurgitate thought patterns. I am referring to developing literacy skills that extend beyond reading and writing. If we think of literacy as being the ability to recognise, manage and use information (decode, recode and code), it is possible to broaden the term ‘literacy’ into other domains. This is why I like to challenge students to develop their critical, emotional and creative literacy skills. Students who are critically, emotionally and creatively literate have the power to interpret and evaluate their world. They also have the ability to change it. They have a voice and the skill set required to ensure their voice is heard.
So, rather than looking behind at what has passed, rather than seeking to wrestle old education practices into new shapes, let’s create new spaces for learning. Let’s look forward and look ahead. Students who understand the learning process and take responsibility for their part within it are more likely to be motivated because they are traveling toward a destination they have chosen.
This is a Rite; travel the learning the path to gain access to a world filled with possibility. Develop critical, emotional and creative literacy; open the door to lifelong learning.
Welcome to a World of Expression.