It’s not surprising to hear or read about what some of the most prolific thinkers and scholars think lies ahead in the field of education. There are a few common themes I believe we can count on:
-rapid change and growing need for adaptable thinking
-uncertainty surrounding determining adequate preparation of youth for college and career
-the changing role and use of technology to support and enhance the work of educators and learning of students
Those are what I’d call a series of unknowns. While we can foresee that they’re likely to be important, we are uncertain as to just how they’ll play a role in how we educate our world’s children. The degree to which each of these elements will impact our field is still largely unknown, and while many scholars work to make accurate predictions, I’d argue that our focus should instead be on the enduring principles of teaching and learning. In the last decade with the increasing mounting pressures of accountability supported by well-named policies in k-12 education that were perhaps well-intentioned, yet failed to produce the outcomes we’d hoped for, we’ve become a very strategy driven field. While strategies with evidence of high impact are important, we have an opportunity and perhaps a need, to couple that with a strong focus on pedagogy. That is a focus on how to help teachers improve their practice of teaching, along with their ability to utilize effective strategies to produce high student outcomes for all students. To do that, I propose that we focus on a simple set of enduring principles:
1. It is more important to know how to learn than to be able to consume large amounts of information( memorizing facts, dates, key historical events)
2. Critical thinking will remain an essential skill. Students must be able to not only consume information but also make meaningful and comprehensive connections to information, using it to improve their ability to act in ways that make a significant difference.
3. Problem-solving will remain eternally important. We must help students become excellent questioners rather than persons with all the answers.
4. Relationships will remain at the heart of all education. Even the greatest technology in the world won’t take away what comes with the human condition-the need to feel purposeful, a sense of autonomy and the tools to master that which challenges us most.
Our future is rooted not in simply determining what students must know and be able to do, but in how we ensure students have all the skills, dispositions, and abilities to learn-regardless of the content, construct, or goals we set for them.