It’s simple! Life is bigger than School.

How much of what you do now did you learn in school? I always like to keep things simple, if I can. At two recent #EdTechTeam events, I spent a lot of time understandably discussing the changes happening in education. My training sessions these days focus on the shifting of responsibility for learning from teacher to student. People are always asking me for strong arguments that they can use to encourage change in their school.

In New Zealand, it’s easier because our curriculum and official advice from government all support this change, it’s just the NZ schools that are taking time to break old habits. Outside NZ, it’s a little different, so I thought I’d use this post to cover one very simple universal truth about schools – they just don’t have the time to explain everything! 🙂

Life’s huge and on the move!

The next decade will have huge implications for the world’s current school population. Any current view that a particular topic in school is of definite importance is going to be challenged. For example, as more schools introduce coding education, supported by world initiatives like Hour of Code, the Machine Learning community, who are at the forefront of coding, explain that the future need for coders is diminishing each day as machines are taught to self-learn. We overtly teach beginner topics for Science to all, while rarely overtly teaching any of the Top required skills for 2020. My experience would say that the average high school leaver in 2016 would not be able to define or grade themselves for “emotional intelligence,” “negotiation,” or “cognitive flexibility,” let alone explain the practical implications of their level of “creativity.” Coping with life is less about permanently holding information and daily reality is more about how one conducts oneself and solves problems, including the problem of having to learn something.

Teach HOW rather than WHAT

If we accept that schools do not have time to teach everything then it goes without saying that schools need to focus on how one will learn what is and is not covered. To develop better citizens, we have to focus on how our students can work together and naturally utilise all available resources to learn anything in any context. We can not predict what they will need to know. As a simple example, I am a little geekier than the average bear (Yogi reference) but not only never use a pen, but have dictated 80% of this post for my laptop to type for me! I also dictate every text I send too. I was taught to write but now don’t even type!

But what about the current assessments?

The common question at this point is “But what about my kids’ tests?” Whatever curriculum you’re working within doesn’t effect the need to shift your own and your students’ mindset from “Thank goodness the teacher can teach us these topics?” to  “How can we learn the topics we need to?” By allowing students to experience and practice the full process of real-life learning from the start and negotiating their approach with their teacher, we develop better people, less reliant on their current situation directly providing a body with an answer.

Life’s big, so let’s start thinking big.