Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Transform--Not Reform--Education

I'm sick of hearing about education reform. It is too easy for politicians to be in favor of reform. The problem is education reform is a misnomer. Education reform is about more of the same old 20th century, industrial era accountability thinking--high stakes testing and standard curricula.

Why don't we try some new words and approaches. Instead of "education reform", how about "educational transformation"? This approach is dangerous because is means that the traditional educational approach that has been driving education "reform" would be dismissed in favor of real change.

What would educational transformation look like? How about taking a cue from Harvard Education Professor Tony Wagner, who has written about what schools need to do to be relevant in the 21st century. Wagner's 2008 book The Global Achievement Gap details 7 essential skills schools need to be teaching students:
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence
  • Agility and Adaptability
  • Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
  • Effective Oral and Written Communication
  • Accessing and Analyzing Information
  • Curiosity and Imagination
Wagner has written about the blueprint for educational transformation, but it is up to fearless teachers, administrators, and politicians to create an environment where these 7 skills can be emphasized in school. Sadly, the Educational-Testing Complex would take these skills and create a standardized test to assess how collaborative, adaptable, and curious students are.

For a real example of a school that is trying to transform themselves check out the Hunterdon Central High School's 1:1 computer initiative and their use of Wagner's 7 skills.

No comments: