A colleague of mine relayed to me that the Calgary Science School had hosted nearly 1500 visitors to their school this past year. This charter school, has a population of 600 students from grades 4-9 and is a model of both the science of teaching and inquiry based learning. But 1500 visitors…can you imagine opening up your schools to that number? Would we be willing to be that transparent and that vulnerable to open our doors?
Currently education is “stuck” in the transformation process. We feel that the change required is being halted by public perception and often by our own parents. We fear moving forward because of our insecurities of public perception.
- They would never understand if we moved to outcomes based reporting only.
- They would never accept no percentage grading.
- They would never allow a modified calendar.
- They would never support a re-structured timetable.
- They would never believe that the classroom of yesterday don’t work today.
And so, we fail to really make the necessary changes to the education system and only tweak at best. We resign ourselves to believing that if only our parents, our communities, our society knew what the research said or what Inspiring Education was really about we could make a difference.
If we really want to shift our population’s thinking about how schools are and need to be, we must SHOW THEM! We need to take a page out of the Calgary Science School and open our doors. We need to demonstrate that the classrooms they attended in their youth are not the classrooms required of today. We need to show them that the method illustrated in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off of teaching is not part of modern classrooms today.
Our schools must not be seen as institutes of private practice but rather institutes of public performance. Educators need to consider themselves as being on stage every single day, engaging students, challenging their thoughts and developing critical thinkers and problem solvers. We must be willing to show the benefits of an inclusive classroom and how our beliefs and practices around inclusion positively impact our society overall. Our classrooms must reveal how students collaborate with one another more often than not and that learning is always at the highest level.
Opening our doors takes the mystery (and the critics) out of the transformation agenda. To get to the next stage of transformation and impact success for all learners not just some requires an open door policy.
“What worked yesterday is the gilded cage of tomorrow.- Peter Block”
Today’s students deserve and require a far different educational experience than ever before. High levels are learning are no longer optional in today’s society. With high school dropouts making up 43% of Canada’s welfare population and 74% of the prison population it would suggest that we need to change.
“The demand for educated workers will continue to be high, and those who obtain postsecondary education or training can continue to expect to earn a premium while those who do not will have far fewer opportunities to earn a living wage.” Craig D. Jerald, Defining a 21st Century Education
It is time to demonstrate our modern-day classrooms and invite our public into our schools. Then, and only then, will people understand how education has changed and needs to continue to evolve, because remember, we are teaching students for their future and not our past!