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Is Disruption the New Normal for Education?

Key Shared Insights & Perspectives

What might the lessons of the Pandemic be for a learning revolution?

We started with a significant question, whose answer is still being formed at this time, as we are unable to see the ripples impacting how we even think about learning yet. Our existing education system is the by-product of society’s industrial needs and has been conceived and formed as a quick harvest with optimization and efficiency in mind.

While exploring this complex question as a group, a few themes emerged:

  1. Our education curriculum hasn’t changed in the last thirty years which shows an obsolescence of what kids are learning, misaligned with our real world needs.

  2. There are many kinds of learners from auditory, visual, sensory to social and interpersonal learners. One curriculum is unable to serve all students. Consequently, education shouldn’t be standardized.

  3. Students have lost their interests. Luz Olid Diaz, filmmaker of the documentary “Killing Curiosity” shares how traditional schooling kills curiosity because it is driven by competition and scarcity rather than allowing passions to flourish.

How do we unlearn the inertia, triggers, and cues of our formal Education?

Our second key question of our episode is directly tied to our understanding of how we can change our thinking about education to see what we’re missing. It mirrors the question asked in Nora Bateson’s documentary movie “An Ecology of Mind” about her father, Gregory Bateson,“How can we see the problem of linear thinking in a world made up of circles?

A first step is to recognize and grieve our loss of faith in our own education system. During the Pandemic, schools were closed, and students, parents, and educators became untethered from current systems. Suggestions and ideas were generated around what was actually possible, not what is possible within the compliance of the existing system.

The second step to changing our education system is to rethink the environment and look at the context in which education is delivered. A classroom has expectations: Students sit, experts stand at the front and try to get the conversation going. Therefore, rethinking our policies and procedures could take away the rigid structure and change the overall experience.

The third step is to create awareness by having conversations like this one, within communities to allow inspiration and new ideas to emerge. Diversity is the key to finding what works. There is a full spectrum of innovative education methodologies available from fully-directed to students making their own decisions, like at democratic schools. Being part of a community is important for thinking outside the box, as we tend to always imitate what we have seen.

How do we re-instill curiosity and persevere in creating new models?

Our last question of the episode is meant to help each of us become the self-authoring leader of our own lives through meaningful actions.

Curiosity means “hunger to know” or “a strange object,” but the Latin root means “to care” - so curiosity is carefully listening and following the natural desire of our inquiry. Practicing curiosity daily allows us to gain more awareness and become a playful apprentice.

By exploring and reflecting, our curiosity will grow and develop the way a rose grows, not because you make it, but because it is organic, alive - a force of nature.

All we need to do is care for it.

Yet, it is important to be aware that, in our society, asking questions can be a threat to the status quo and a community’s truth.

Therefore, re-instilling curiosity starts with us as parents and educators, overcoming our own fears and reassuring ourselves. Shauna Anderson described how most of her job is to manage parents’ anxiety: “Am I going to mess my kid up?” She adds that for most parents and educators.

“It is very frightening to step out into that wide open space when you're so used to being in this little pen.”

When we remember that school today works for adults because it’s tied to our working world and often plays the role of a daycare, we are faced with the realization that parents must change their working habits to give their students space that fits with their unique learning style. Meanwhile, educators must experiment with a new context in their classroom and tie student interest with new goals around child development.

If schools are a mirror of society, we cannot expect our current system to nurture responsible citizens who take care of their environment and support a healthy, democratic country.

Change is necessary, but difficult, due to our traditional view that adults hold the authority and responsibility and children must listen to their advice and obey their commands.

A second element resides in the idea of letting our kids tell us what they want.

When we find what interests children and students, we give them the freedom to take charge of their own work impacting their mental health.

When you create a space for individuals to voice their own individuality, it will give them a sense of belonging and that leads to personal agency.

Final Thoughts to Consider

Our current education system is built on pillars of the Industrial Revolution and focuses on IQ, memorization and standardization in a one-size-fits-all model. The Pandemic offers a chance to reflect on these habitual, established processes and methodologies and question their place in the future of learning in education and the workplace.

The education transformation will start with those who can let go of what it traditionally means to educate, teach, and acquire knowledge.

As Nora Bateson said, “It’s a prerequisite of system change that you lose faith in the existing system. Once you lose faith, you stop looking for yourself inside it.”

Helping parents and educators to let go of their restrictive mindset to see that “It's going to be okay for our kids” is the key.

However, the shift is actually at a much deeper level, requiring a totally different way of “being” in the world. The real revolution is in our day to day, moment to moment intergenerational relationships. Let's not lead the next generation in our traps as the whole world needs to change.

By putting the responsibility of learning in the hands of learners, we give students more autonomy to make decisions and be in control of their lives.

When we give them the freedom to experience, experiment, and pursue what they want to do, responsibility grows and interdependence with educators becomes more balanced.

The essential skills for future generations of adults include having emotional intelligence for interpersonal relationships, curiosity to differences as beneficial, and the ability to adapt in times of uncertainty and change.

How many people follow the established path and achieve all the “dreams” they had in college, only to feel dissatisfied and burnt out as they realize the “dreams” weren’t truly theirs?

Instead, if we provide the next generations with the space and tools to be curious to design their own lives, they will focus on more than simply becoming productive members of society, but grow into creative and compassionate educators of the future.

Our next podcast will cover new forms of education.

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