Reflective practice and lifelong learning, are fundamental dispositions for educators in Aotearoa. We are guided by a professional code which asks us to demonstrate a commitment to providing high-quality and effective teaching, to analyse and review our teaching practice, and to innovate through inquiry. While we proudly claim a world-class education system, in terms of educational equality, New Zealand ranks in the bottom third of all OECD countries (UNICEF Office of Research, 2018). It is increasingly evident that disruption is needed. Disruptive education calls for us to go further, moving beyond our pursuit of improved practice to creating entirely new ways of doing things which make the old methods obsolete.
People of Aotearoa have a whakapapa of disruption. Linked by the histories of our land, we all share a connection to Māui; well known for his stories of innovation and disruptive action.
Māui the disruptor: At one time, all the fire in the world needed continual tending as only the flames of another fire could be used to start a new one. Māui, the disruptor, wondered what would happen if all those fires went out, he leapt to action extinguishing every last spark. The disappearance of their vital fire threw the people into turmoil; Māui needed to find a new solution. So he sought out Mahuika, goddess of fire. Mahuika was open to hearing Māui’s plea and offered a new flame so that Māui could return fire to the world. However, Māui was not satisfied with the idea of reverting to the way things had been. He destroyed each flame Mahuika offered and challenged her to consider a new approach. Drained of all but her final spark she flung her last flame toward Māui, setting alight the forest behind him. Honoured by this gift the trees guarded the spark now within them. From then on, by rubbing two sticks together from these trees Mahuika’s flame would be released. Now people possessed a source of fire, disrupting the old practice of flame keeping, as a new and more efficient approach, became available to the people of the world. (Grace, 2019)
This story of how Māui brought fire to the world helps us to understand the potential for disruptive change, that displacing established practices can create a place for us to consider an entirely new way of reaching our goals. So how did Māui embrace disruption? His curious nature helped him to think beyond the comfortable norm. Māui’s bravery meant that he fearlessly acted on his hunch to explore beyond current circumstances. His steady tenacity enabled Māui to persevere in his pursuit of a new more effective solution.
The teaching and learning in many of our institutions undeniably looks, sounds and feels comparable to the systems of 100 years ago. We must acknowledge that many of these old approaches no longer serve the goals and visions of learners today. It seems that innovators in education have not yet disrupted the current state enough to force the shifts needed to reimagine an education system which equitably serves the needs of all stakeholders and their communities. So, how might we get there? What are we doing to enable disruption in our education settings? Moreover, are we going far enough?
One way for us to facilitate disruption is by embracing new technologies. Technology can act as a catalyst for disruptive change. Consider how the entertainment giant Netflix utilised the technology available to disrupt the entertainment industry. Providing a more efficient system, which met the developing needs and expectations of its users rendered the previous models insufficient and led to the demise of preceding giants who chose to retain the walk-in video store models which had served them well in the past.
It is the evolving needs of its users which drives disruptive change in any industry. As we are challenged to embrace disruption in education, we should reflect on who it is that our education system is working to serve. Learners placed at the heart of learning should be empowered to drive disruption. Those holding power to enable disruptive change in education will determine the future of our communities. Let us consider who has been empowered by our existing systems to affect change and how we might deconstruct these power structures to bring all stakeholders to the table. There is massive potential for these shifts to enhance our nation’s commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi in upholding Kāwanatanga, Tino Rangatiratanga and Ōritetanga. We should appreciate not just the impact that disruptive education might have on our communities but also the impact that our communities might have on disruption in education.
He whakatōhenehene te karawhiu! Kia mārama ki ngā karawhiunga o te whakatōhenehene i te ao ako me te wātea o ētahi tū āhuatanga ki te whakatōhenehene.
The new norm. Recognising the impact of disruptive forces in our educational context and harnessing the opportunities to disrupt the status quo.
Examining trends in education may be one way that we can predict where disruption is most likely to take place. Consider how these Ten Trends are causing disruption in current practice and how we might explore the potential for these trends to disrupt our teaching and learning contexts.
- A focus on wellbeing
- Cultural narratives
- Social mapping
- Real-time reporting
- Schools as part of the community
- Changing role of teachers
- Big data, small data
- Human capital
- Understanding success
The CORE uLearn19 conference themes of Kirirarautanga | Citizenship, Whakatōhenehene | Disruption and Auahatanga | Innovation intertwine to help us to recognise new ways to effect positive change. The following focus questions empower us to consider our role in influencing disruption:
- How do we build the capacity for continuous disruptive change in ourselves and our learners? What competencies are required
- How can we disrupt in mana enhancing and inclusive ways?
- Where disruptions are evident in your educational setting, how do we know that they are occurring for the better?
- How can we understand and respond to the disruptions that are happening in our society? What have we learned from past disruptions to take us into the future?
- What effect is digitisation having on the workplace and how can we best utilise the opportunities?
Imagine the impact of an education system, which genuinely reflects the needs of those it serves. When all learners, educators, whānau and community are empowered to be disruptors in our education system, we will witness disruptive changes which move beyond doing the same things in better ways, to being presented with new ways of reaching our evolving goals. As we embrace our innate Māuitanga and the qualities of curiosity, bravery and perseverance bestowed on us by our whakapapa as New Zealanders, we will discover new ways of teaching, new ways of learning, and new ways of being, to share with the world.
edSpace is CORE Education’s online network for educators to connect with others, discuss strategies, and share information – join edSpace here. Once you’re there, head to our uLearn discussion forum, and join the discussion about Disruption.
What actions might you take toward activating disruptive change?
CORE Education. (2019). Ten Trends. Retrieved March 19, 2019, from http://core-ed.org/research-and-innovation/ten-trends/
Grace, W. (2019). How Māui brought fire to the world / Māori Myths, Legends and Contemporary Stories / Te Reo Māori / Support materials / Home – Mātauranga Māori. Retrieved from http://eng.mataurangamaori.tki.org.nz/Support-materials/Te-Reo-Maori/Maori-Myths-Legends-and-Contemporary-Stories/How-Maui-brought-fire-to-the-world
Iny, D. (2018) Leveraged Learning: How the Disruption of Education Helps Lifelong Learners, and Experts with Something to Teach. Washington, Columbia Country: Influential Marketing Group.
Ministry of Education. (2019). Kia Takatū ā-Matihiko. Retrieved March 19, 2019, from https://kiatakatu.ac.nz
UNICEF Office of Research (2018). ‘An Unfair Start: Inequality in Children’s Education in Rich Countries’, Innocenti Report Card 15, UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, Florence. Retrieved March 19, 2019, from https://innocenti.unicef.org.nz/