Time for the world of education to be bold

I recently gave this talk at the Learning2 Conference in Manila. What I am basically saying is that things need to change, that we need sudden and urgent change in the world and that schools – if we stop deluding ourselves – can be a powerful source of that change.

There are many things about life today that we passively continue to accept:

  • that success = money
  • that waste is OK
  • that pollution is inevitable
  • that destruction = progress
  • that new is best
  • that media = truth
  • that Hollywood represents social/cultural ideals
  • that school = work
  • that education is the key
  • that its OK for technology to lead the way
  • that we have no control over the future

I could go on… its really interesting to start a list like that! However, its more interesting, and indeed sobering, to look at education and schools through those lenses and to see just how much we perpetuate the things in the list, to see how much we transfer those ways of thinking to kids.

In my talk, I use the metaphor of moulds… and I think I can take this idea one step further by saying that moulds help us to play it safe. I think schools persistently play it safe – we go about our daily existences in fear of persecution from parents, governing bodies, governments, testing companies, universities, media companies, big business, religious groups etc… As a result, not only have we become passive, we have also become rather bland.

I challenge any school to seriously reflect on its impact on society. Has it made a positive impact? Has it made a negative impact? Has it made any impact at all? What is it doing about that?

Everybody goes through school. People’s school “careers” define their futures. So, what kind of futures are we defining? Do we know? Can we be bothered to find out? Are our alumni making a positive impact on society?

These are HUGE questions. But, surely its time to start trying to find out, trying to discover what our actual impact is as perpetuators of the status quo or as agents of change.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not happy with the status quo.

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3 comments

  1. Liz Cho

    “I challenge any school to seriously reflect on its impact on society” – me, too. I’m desperate to see schools break moulds. I’m desperate to take part in it, and it’s so important to remember that we’re the ones who make up the schools… we, the educators, as much as we spend our time complaining about those who “won’t do” or “won’t let us do”…. So then our responsibility is big: responsibility to learn, to challenge ourselves and each other (colleagues, bosses… everyone), to act upon what we preach, to truly reflect (reflect!), to engage with our students as learners ourselves.

    Your talk was right on, Sam, and it was really humbling and encouraging to hear it at Learning2. Not to mention, your art work is out of this world. Beautiful, both your words and images. Thank you for sharing and for what you do.

  2. Pingback: Time for the world of education to be bold | PY...
  3. Pingback: What’s worth learning in school? #learning2 | Teaching the Teacher

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