What are the Twinkling Lights in the Sky?

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Well usually I post great things that other people have said/done that inspire me as a learner and leader. I have finally decided to step outside of my own comfort zone and share a reflection I composed for a course I am currently taking online. It is a very “big idea” type piece that doesn’t offer solutions but I hope presents some of the conversations that we need to keep having in order to do what is best for our students and the future of global education. Just my thoughts.

What are the Twinkling Lights in the Sky?
– Sugata Mitra’s School in the Clouds

Sugata MitraAs I viewed Sugata Mitra’s TED talk, Build a School in the Cloud (http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud), I found myself deeply reflecting on the the future of schooling and the nature of leadership in our current education system. Both are evolving but at a pace that does not reflect the pace of societal change. We seem trapped in a tunnel and the fear of not knowing what is in the light at the end of that tunnel deters the transformation of a system and stunts the growth of the learners within it. I don’t I have the solutions, but I do strongly believe that we all need to be active advocates and participants in their development.

The role of leaders at all levels of education is changing. Leadership in education is not about finding the single best way to do things; leadership demands having a vision as to how enable all learners to maximize their unique potential and find their opportunity to lead. An effective leader must be a true learner that engages in the process of growth to facilitate and support the growth of those they influence. Breaking down the notion that the only leaders in education are those that sit highest in the hierarchy of the system is critical to the successful transformation of the paradigm of education.
“Sustainable change starts with thinking at the edges of the box. It’s about evolution, not revolution.” ~ Bill Ferriter
We must find new and effective ways to collaborate, communicate, create and curate the ideas, experiences and insights of all our leaders past, present and future now to build a system that can support an undefined future that is demanding a redefined paradigm.

Learning is innate. Unaware of constructed boundaries, children don’t know where to stop and what they are not capable of. They will learn anywhere and everywhere. They can learn amazing things even from “a hole in the wall”. How do we build a learning environment that allows students to learn what, when and how they want to? How do we also ensure that their developmental needs are supported and relevant, contextual intellectual stimulation are reflected. Learning is an experiential process that is individualized and must respect and reflect the learner. Learning and creativity should not be a threatening experience. It should not be a journey in which the individual is discouraged from trying for fear of being wrong. The fundamental goal of education must be to teach learners how to learn. It is so much more than just the regurgitation of the information that is deemed relevant and important. We must teach students to connect the dots, not just collect the dots, so they can succeed and adapt to changing needs in a dynamic and demanding world.

Learning is learning, that will not change. How, when, where and who we learn from is now beginning its metamorphosis. The traditional classroom to prepare people to participate in Mitra’s “Bureaucratic Administrative Machine” and the “Global Computer of People” is no longer relevant. The needs, scope and scale of the so called “21st Century Classroom” must evolve to reflect a new global reality that is challenging to define due to the rapid pace of its own evolution. Mitra’s idea that the British empire’s “Human Computer” of people writing information of paper and transporting it by ship around the world is gone but not forgotten. Although the paper and ships have been replaced and the volume of information has grown exponentially, the people remain constant. Information communication technologies are redefining the global human computer connecting everything to everyone, everywhere. To ignore the potential of the collective marginalizes the goals of education and the development of true life-long learners.

“Is knowing obsolete?” This powerful statement stirs the souls of educators and shakes the foundations of our current model of education. I would offer that knowing is not obsolete but instead the task of ‘knowing’ is transforming. We are moving from a paradigm of ‘knowing what’ to one of ‘knowing how and why’.

Just my thoughts,
Jim

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