Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The elephants in the room

I was at the NESA Conference last week and attended a session by John Burns where he shared an article written a couple of years ago by Will Richardson.  In fact, over the course of the NESA Conference I had several opportunities to talk about the disconnect between what we know about learning and what is actually happening in schools.  Here are some of these "elephants in the room" according to Will Richardson:
  1. Most students forget most of the content they learn in school.  Only a small fraction is retained even a year after they learn it.  The reason for this is because the content is not relevant or significant to students' lives.
  2. Most students are bored and disengaged in school.  Clearly this percentages increases the longer students are in school (high schoolers are the least involved and enthusiastic about school).  The reason is that teachers are focused too much on engagement and not enough on agency.
  3. Deep learning needs different conditions from what is found in schools/classrooms.  Deep learning requires passion, an authentic purpose for learning it, and agency about when and where that learning takes place.
  4. We are not assessing the things that are important for future success.  Mostly we assess what it is easy to assess (content) and we don't assess the literacies, skills and dispositions that lead to a happy, healthy life.
  5. Students and parents are more interested in grades than learning.
  6. Curriculum is out-of-date.  We are only able to teach "one-billionth of one percent" of the knowledge out there and it's likely we are making the wrong choices about what to teach.
  7. Separating learning into subjects and time blocks is not the best way to prepare for the real world.
  8. The current system of education is not preparing students for what follows.  Richardson claims we are "continuing to try to do the wrong things right, and we just get 'wronger' in the process."
  9. Learning that sticks is usually learned informally and just-in-time from networks, sources and experiences.
What do you think of these "elephants"?  Do you relate to some of these more than others in your school context?  Are there others that have been missed from this list?

Link to the article

Photo Credit: Timothy Valentine Flickr via Compfight cc

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