In my last post I innocently asked one of my famous awkward questions when I queried how we might actually start the learning revolution advocated by Sir Ken Robinson?
It’s true that education has got so far behind the times that a major change is needed, but unless we can imagine school-children, students and teachers rioting in the streets and sending all the Oxbridge-educated politicians and journalists to the guillotine in a bid to achieve a really effective sort of education cut, it’s hard to imagine what other event could possibly act as a catalyst for the revolution.
Instead, somehow we have to find ways to be more sophisticated and strategic, working from within, getting the politicians and the journalists to buy into a simple media message that sounds positive and attractive to Daily Mail readers, and that isn’t going to cost too much to implement.
Now I’ve always considered that learning is a basic survival skill, not that far behind breathing, eating and keeping warm and dry. Children have an instinctive desire to learn, but the problem is that what they are currently being taught is not what they know they need to be learning. There is no longer a fixed body of knowledge that will see them through their lives, and the former holy grail of an academic degree is no longer a guarantee of life-long employment and a good pension.
One of the main problems with education is that as a society we still think of school as being somewhere children go to learn about things, and that’s what is they are then examined on. Perhaps all that’s really needed to achieve something more appropriate is a shift of focus towards an emphasis not so much what you learn, but how you learn? The QCAs ‘Personal Learning and Thinking‘ skills have been around for a few years now, but I doubt whether many teachers are aware of it, and students are certainly not assessed and certificated in things such as being independent enquirers, self-managers and effective participators. Of course a reliable and valid means of ‘on the fly’ collaborative assessment would need to be found to enable students to measure their progress against the learning performance of others, but we all know something that will do just that, don’t we?
Wouldn’t it be great if teachers were encouraged to share and pass on their own expertise in how people learn, instead of keeping it to themselves?
And as an employer in the 21st Century I’d much rather my future workforce had certificates to show that they have the capacity to work collaboratively to acquire the unforeseeable knowledge, understanding and skills that will emerge over their future working lives, rather than having a list of academic qualifications rooted in the incomprehensible suburban sprawl of the ‘just in case’ subject knowledge defined the National Curriculum.
So as a more positive reason for going to school, maybe ‘Learning how to learn‘ is a catchy enough proposition to one day persuade some enlightened and ambitious education minister (sadly not the present incumbent) that here is the basis of a policy that might actually make a difference and also be a potential vote-winner?
Let’s provide some TLC in our schools! That’s: Thinking, Learning and Creativity.