Sometimes I get tired of hearing so much negativity about education today.
My ideal school would hold the belief that everyone has the potential to learn. It would acknowledge that learning takes place in a variety of ways, depending on abilities, preferences and interests. It would make every effort to cater for such diversity in its learners.
At my ideal school, teachers would relinquish control and learners would take more responsibility for their own learning. They’d be encouraged to set goals, reflect, and make responsible choices in their learning and in their lives.
Learners would be encouraged to be thinkers and inquirers. Exploring, questioning and wondering would be celebrated. Opportunities would be provided for individual and group inquiries into personal areas of interest.
While explicit teaching of skills would be important, the curriculum would be concept driven. Instead of focusing on topics and facts, learning would centre around big ideas like change, perspective or responsibility. Learners would explore powerful, challenging questions and ideas, transferable through time, place and context.
My ideal school would help students develop a strong sense of personal identity, while promoting inter-cultural understanding and being open to diversity. It would aim to develop globally aware young people with a social conscience, who strive to help create a better world.
Creativity and collaboration would be highly valued at my ideal school. Students would be able to express their learning in creative ways through art, drama or technology. Positive risk taking would be encouraged and opportunities provided to experiment with new and different things in a secure environment, without fear of failure. These would include a variety of sports, exposure to the arts and leadership opportunities.
My ideal school would have a kitchen garden, where students would not only learn about how things grow, but grow all kinds of fruit and vegetables themselves. They would work together in the kitchen to produce nutritious meals from the produce in the garden.
At my ideal school, teachers would be passionate learners too. Groups would meet voluntarily before school to share best practice, to exchange ideas, to be exposed to new ways of thinking. They would gradually overcome their fears of technology and be willing to experiment with new tools to support and enhance their students’ learning.
Oh, but wait… this is the school at which I already teach!
It’s far from perfect . There’s not consistency yet and we are constantly striving to improve. And yes, certainly in an ideal world, school could look vastly different. But, given the educational system as it currently stands, I think we’re doing a good job of creating a positive learning environment and preparing our learners for the future.
Maybe education reform can happen, one forward thinking school at a time, one passionate educator at a time…
(I teach at an IB school, in the Primary Years Program)