Looking Forward – #1

Looking forward to what?

When things get back to normal. When our lives are not sequestered. When we are free to leave the house again and visit with family and friends. When fear and loss is replaced with hope and life.

All of us are looking forward to these things.

For those of us who advocate for educational freedom, our list includes a few additional items, especially given that schools are closed right now and distance learning is happening.

What are we looking forward to?

  • The day when all teachers are free to facilitate learning without restrictive system constructs.
  • The day when all parents are free to access educational options.
  • The day when all children are free to learn unleashed from school labels and artificial barriers.

What’s happening?

Teachers are working from home to provide “distance learning” for their students. This looks very different from state to state, zip code to zip code but there are some commonalities. No state tests. No pressure for grading. No need for elaborate classroom management strategies and no getting sent to the office. This is hard work for sure and a steep learning curve for many. Communication and continued relationship building are emphasized and most teachers and kids are engaged and enjoying it.

Parents (some as teachers), are juggling home schedules that include whatever distance learning the school is providing, with their own work from home requirements. There are parents who say they feel ill-prepared and under-qualified, but are rising to the challenge. They are realizing that their kids are learning in spite of what they perceive as less than optimal circumstances.

Children are missing their school friends, many missing their teachers, and most spending a lot more (structured and unstructured) time with their parents. For the most part kids are enjoying the new found freedom that learning at home provides.

Homeschooling families are plugging away as usual, but with limited “out of house” adventures and community co-ops with their friends. They are sharing “at home” and “online” ideas with teachers and other parents who find themselves in a sort of “hybrid” homeschooling model.

What can we learn?

What we learn during this time with regard to conventional school system structures, has the potential to shape an illuminating and liberating future for learners, teachers and parents alike.

What will  “getting an education” look like after this particular time, or in ten years, twenty years, and beyond? The possibilities are endless and exhilarating if we see this time through the lens of innovation, opportunity and fearless exploration.

It’s innovation that shapes our future. It’s thinking out of the box that opens up ways of learning that we never thought possible. It’s shifting the “industrial” model of hours in seat and grade level curriculum to a new and far reaching understanding of authentic learning. It’s thinking differently about how we DO school.

It takes a VISION of the future.

Imagine a time when teachers are not tethered to a union mentality working for the system, but can work for themselves, set their own parameters, salaries and working conditions. Parents and students would seek them out for their expertise and rapport with young people. Teachers could band together in their communities and elsewhere to provide their services. There are multiple ways to make this affordable, especially when parents have state and federal funding follow their child instead of a school system.

There are trade offs with this model as with any venture. Entrepreneurial types do well. Those who want others to manage their profession, ultimately live with the limited choices that decision brings. Those limitations are too lengthy to list here as one would imagine, but here is a recent example below.

Alfie Kohn
@alfiekohn
I’ve been asked my reaction to schools’ having temporarily stopped grading students because of online instruction challenges due to the pandemic. Hmm. What would your reaction be to news that the CIA had ordered a brief moratorium on waterboarding prisoners due to a drought?
9:51 AM · Apr 5, 2020

 

There is much more to say about looking forward in education. This is just the first in a series so stay tuned.

There is a grand picture on the horizon if we have the VISION to see it!

IMG_0899

My own photo from Newport. R.I. 2010

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