Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Teaching versus Learning

The last several weeks I have had some awesome conversations regarding teaching and learning in our schools. I have been completely blown away with the professionalism and the desire to grow from the teachers in the Owensboro Public Schools! My thoughts are still swirling from the conversations that took place. A high school teacher at OHS shared her thoughts and asked a question that has me REALLY thinking...Why don't teachers realize that being "OK" is not Good Enough? She brought up a good question regarding generations of student and past students. Could they walk into a classroom and answer the question..."What year is it?” Easy enough question, but the implications run deep! This video came to mind, “Progressive Education in the 1940s”:

This video touts the merits of the “revolutionary teaching ideas” of the 1940s, especially the use of projects. Seventy years later, how far have we come with our schools? Sadly, in spite of today’s “revolutionary teaching ideas” we’re still basically doing things the same way and getting the same results. Insanity, according to Einstein.

Another teacher posed another question, “Are we in the business of schooling or in the business of learning?” This really hits the nail on the head for me. I’ve been really thinking about this for several years. Is it time to abandon “schooliness” for the love of learning.

OPS is at a critical juncture. As we explore and develop our 21st Century Learning Continuum and move forward with the rollout of more classroom technology tools, it’s vital that we change our focus from teaching to learning. More computers won’t change what happens in the classroom. Our recent conversation and the comments that school reform doesn’t work rings sharp and clear. Re-forming what we’ve been doing for so long won’t yield new results. Our current system of doing things is more focused on “schooling” not “learning.” To reach our goal of developing students to be better problem solvers, critical thinkers, and independent learners, radical change is necessary, and radical change necessitates risk. I’m convinced that our technology initiative is synchronous with the equally important change toward demonstration of proficiency rather than attainment of grades. This will be a very scary proposition for teachers, students, and parents, but according to Robert Kennedy, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Our only hope for success is a willingness to make drastic change. Are we willing to take the risk?