School education: What can we do to make 2012 a tipping point for irreversible change?

2011 has been a fantastic year for me and I am excited about what 2012 will bring.

I left teaching about 12 years ago, disenchanted with a system that was bogged down in traditional thinking, I didn’t know the term ‘industrial-era’ back then. I could see that school was becoming disconnected from the real world and believed it could be much better, a place where students could be intrinsically motivated and passionately engaged. To do that I knew radical change was needed and I felt very alone in my conviction.

Technology and the global agitation for change has brought many passionate educators together.

While we still have a way to go I am encouraged by the groundswell movement witnessed this year. We are empowered to push change when we feel part of something bigger. This global community of passionate educators gives encouragement – we are not alone in our quest.

So as we approach 2012 I feel that we are getting close to a tipping point, a term popularised by Malcolm Gladwell in his book of the same name.

The concept of a tipping point emerged from the field of science:

  • The point at which a system is displaced from a state of stable equilibrium into a different state
  • When an evolving situation that leads to a new and irreversible development

“The term is said to have originated in epidemiology when an infectious disease reaches a point beyond any local ability to control it from spreading more widely.  A tipping point is often considered to be a turning point.”

During 2012, I believe we will approach the tipping point. So in the tradition of “I have a dream” here is my dream for school…


An educational institution An authentic learning community
Content-centric Learner-centric
Assessment driven Mastery-motivation
Competitive Cooperative
Knowledge fed from a central source Sparking curiosity to explore
Disconnected from real life It is real life
Dependent on resources provided Creator of resources to share
Uniform in its physical design Flexible in its physical design
Defined hours in a day Fluid across time
Dependent on the teacher’s knowledge Open to many sources of knowledge
Technology as a subject Technology as an environment
Teacher in control Teacher as co-learner
Reflecting society’s expectation An individual’s passion is ignited

The next steps?

  • Help our politicians and government education authorities know that we can do both – have high academic standards AND passionately engage all learners
  • Work with teacher education bodies to think differently about preparing the next generation of teacher
  • Encourage parents to understand that their own school experiences won’t be the best education for their children
  • Support teachers to be valued as professionals, and help them as their role changes
  • Equip and empower school leaders for the new millennium

Stay connected, tweet, blog, join local teachmeets and encourage your colleagues to do the same.

As the Pantene shampoo commercial used to say: It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.


4 thoughts on “School education: What can we do to make 2012 a tipping point for irreversible change?

  1. “Help our politicians and government education authorities know that we can do both – have high academic standards AND passionately engage all learners”

    I wish this were possible, but 17 years in the classroom has taught me that most education administrators and politicians DON’T WANT change. They fear it, they think it costs too much, they won’t fund it, they just want things to go back to some mystical “golden age” of education from the past. Sure there are a few exceptions and even a few enlightened schools, but the majority are stuck in old ways and the recession isn’t helping any either. As budgets shrink it’s technology and training that get it first.


    1. Yes, its true. I try to be a optimist, but when funds are tight, then the back to basics mantra comes back out. But let’s keep trying. It’s the best future for this generation.


  2. I feel fortunate and priveged to be in education today. I believe that many of us are on the edge of a huge change in the way we teach and our perceptions of how our students learn. Finally, we are looking at a relatively untapped area . . . what and how do our students really want to learn. What are our passions as teachers and what are our students’ passions. It is this passion that drives growth, enlightenment, and collaboration. We truely are at a “tipping point” in education today.

    This school leader is empowered to move ahead do what it takes to spark curiosity and explore!

    Don Wielinga


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