I finished my graduate program in international education in the summer of 2002. One key take-away that ‘stuck’ with me is that schooling in most countries had been modeled on an industrial-age factory. They move students from one disconnected subject area to another and then from one grade to the next, if they pass standardized tests – much like a ‘one size-fits-all’ assembly line. I recognized this description from much of my own educational experience.
A few years later, now working at the University for Peace, I was inspired to develop a course for educators that creates a space to question the purposes and structure of our educational system. The central question of the week-long seminar is, “How can we create meaningful learning experiences to equip our students for a future that is constantly changing and that we can barely visualize?”
A few weeks ago, as I was updating the description of the seminar, I realized that this course now needed to be retitled – we are already 10 years into the 21st Century! But too late for that – the flyers had gone out…. It also dawned on me that my own thinking on innovative educational practices needed some new stimulation. Call it the ‘law of positive attraction’ or a pure coincidence, but I received an invitation from my professor at Harvard School of Education, Fernando Reimers, inviting to be part of a Think Tank titled, ‘Education for What Ends?”
It was a highly engaging three days, with inspiring cases of individuals who’ve gone from visualizing a new paradigm for learning to implementing it. Here are five of the key messages from the Think Tank, captured by Professor Reimers during the closing session:
1. We need to rethink the purposes of schooling in the globalizing world we live in.
2. Good education is about excellence and character – those two should not compete against one another.
3. Not only can we achieve consensus on what global education is, but we have some great examples of good work that is being done.
4. We need to have courage to act without fear of changing existing power structures.
5. The place to act is here and now!
The Centre’s June seminar will hopefully leave participants the inspiration and the concrete tools to rethink their education practice. What can you do within your sphere of influence?