Sir Ken Robinson uses Death Valley as a metaphor for the current state of American education. Can you think of anything more glum? We work HARD, we believe in students, we are trying new initiatives, yet the reality is…the current landscape is full of high school dropouts, up to 60% in some areas, and disengaged kids.
Unlike the U.S., Finland has it going on. They focus on all subjects, including the arts, and they tailor education to fit the student. The data shows this approach works. Think about your own children, or the ones you teach, are they identical? Do they have the same interests and ability levels? The answer is a resounding NO. So why do we approach teaching with a one size fits all model?
He offers 3 principles that cause people to flourish:
Great classrooms, great schools, great systems have these principles evident throughout.
So what do high performing systems around the world do differently?
1. They individualize teaching and learning.
2. They choose great people and give them constant support and development. In these countries, teaching is a valued profession.
3. They give schools the responsibility of getting the job done without micro-managing. The needs of students and schools look differently in diverse areas. They allow schools the flexibility needed to engage, rather than having it legislated by those who don’t teach. They put t back in the hands of the teacher.
Education is a human system about people.
“Real leadership is about climate control, and creating a climate of possibility.”
Did you know that Death Valley, characteristically a very hot, dry, desolate land…devoid of most anything because it doesn’t rain there, actually experienced a significant rainfall in 2004. 7 inches. In 2005, things started to bloom. Death Valley was not dead. It was dormant. How are we? Are we desolate, devoid of creativity and ingenuity? Or are we dormant? Are our schools dormant? Our classrooms?
Let’s change the conditions! Let’s plant a sense of possibility and see the growth that takes place!