“Minister for Learning”… now how would that change the focus of education in our nation?

In Australia we are in an interesting political environment. When the government was finally decided and the portfolios handed out many of us in education were bemused by the decision to appoint the “Minister for Schools, Early Childhood and Youth” – prior to the swearing in of the minister this was hastily changed to  include “education” – the Minister for School Education. I think the community recognised something the government hadn’t – in the minds of many the term  “schools” relate to buildings and with the BER grants, that seemed to be the communty focus, we needed to include “education” – or even better, isn’t it time we focussed on “learning”.

So what’s the difference? What would it look like if we focused on learning and every decision made in school would be made on the basis of how we prioritised the learning for our students? This would affect:

  • our language – learning facilitators, learning spaces, learning technologies, learning chunks
  • design of classrooms (or learning spaces)
  • timetables construction (or learning chunks)
  • recruitment of teachers (or learning facilitators)
  • purchases of computers (or learning technologies)

The Innovation Unit – http://www.innovationunit.co.uk has proposed a radical approach to school – schools as we understand them today represent an out-of-date model, one which constrains student learning for most students as much as it promotes it. Are you prepared to maintain an out-of-date model for this generation? Some of the key change-themes that emerged:

1. A desire to move away from a model of pedagogy (learning) dominated by the subject-based curriculum

2. A view that the ‘timetable’ and the ‘school day’ are constraining architectural features

3. A perception that the age-structured cohort is unhelpful

4. An acknowledgement that simulations, gaming theory, social networking (and e-communication generally) are beginning to transform the learning landscape

5. Unlearning, and relearning for teachers

8. A shift towards a more democratic and participative model of schooling

Now if you are of the mindset: School will always be school or it didn’t do me any harm – stop reading now and stop reading my blogs because it will just make you angry.

This generation and the generation to come need school and system reforms. Memorising content to succeed in a statewide exam is not learning and doesn’t position our young people as self-motivated and engaed life long learners. All it does is foster the lucrative and misguided coaching industry.

So if we had a Minister for Learning we would begin to see the necessary change. The  future of our communities, cities and nations requires a primary focus that isn’t on buildings, timetables, curriculums and teachers – but engaging our young people and one that ensures an environment that promotes learning as it’s central principle.

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