Transforming our learners’ experiences
“Leaders that sustain their transformation always remember the reason for the journey: Transformation leads to new ways of helping families to self-sufficiency. Transformation increases capacity to help communities” (Oftelie, 2014).
Talking about ‘transformation’ can feel rather esoteric, vague and resonant of a hundred other buzzwords of the moment. That said, what’s important is to recognise that, internationally, many organisations and schools are having conversations about how we can rethink the design education systems and learning so that our learners and colleagues can gain the greatest opportunity to learn. This was the essence that lay at the heart of my recent CORE Breakfasts in Wellington and Christchurch a few days ago, both fully sold out and livestreamed across New Zealand.
It’s easy to talk about educating students for ‘jobs that don’t exist yet’ – in fact, it’s pretty much the meme du jour when people are arguing for change. There is no doubt, of course, that there are substantial changes occurring in economies, social structures, cultures, governments and so on, driven by globalisation and technological developments. The 2015 CORE Ten Trends offer a useful overview of the big picture shifts that we can see across international discourses around schooling and education.
Preparing students for this changed environment is a central driver for transformation – and it raises questions that go right to the heart of what schooling is for. Evolution over centuries highlight that schools have been designed for a variety of purposes: to pass on cultural important knowledge and behaviours; to educate a new clergy through monastic teachings; to instil basic literacies and maintain orderly citizenry; to prepare people to make worthwhile contributions to society.
With recent changing environmental factors has come increased understanding that these previous systems, designed around the teachers’ intent, do not prepare all learners adequately for “a decent life”. We are seeing renewed appreciation for the impact of systems that are oriented to the learner. In effect, a shift from seeing education in terms of human capital and shifting towards seeing it in terms of human rights (Reis Monteiro, 2014).