Let’s start with the experience of the learner

Reflecting further on my two days at the Deep Learning Lab in Christchurch where the conversations canvased a wide range of issues facing teachers in schools at the moment. Not far below the surface in many conversations was the concern at being held to account for national standards, and how this expectation (real and imagined) is driving what actually happens in classrooms in many schools. The tension between what teachers believe about makes for ‘deep’ learning and the pressure to conform and focus on standards is not easily resolved, but generally results in the latter taking precedence in most school programmes it seems.

The gap that is thus generated between espoused theory and theory in action (ref work of Argyris and Schon) means that the experience of so many learners in our school system today falls short of what we might term ‘engaging’ or ‘deep’! Reflecting more on this I reviewed the interview (above) with Connie Yowell, director of education for the MacArthur Foundation and visionary leader for its Digital Media and Learning initiative. The movie was made by filmmaker Nic Askew who was asked by the McArthur Foundation to make a series of films about connected learning, a new approach to learning he called “courageous” and “transformational.”

This film examines the critical role of curiosity and engagement for today’s youth and in connected learning, the outcome of a six-year research effort supported by the MacArthur Foundation into how learning, education, and schooling could be reimagined for a networked world.

The film asks:

  • ‘What might be the consequence of reframing education around the experience of the student?’
  • ‘Might curiosity have always sat at the heart of an extraordinary education?’
  • ‘How might our imagination bring the experience of education to life?’

As we start the new term here in NZ, I wonder if this might be a useful point of reflection, and perhaps even viewing and discussing in a staff meeting using the questions posed above to generate some thinking about what could be done differently if we really places the learner at the centre of everything we’re doing?

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