Friday, December 31, 2010

A Practical (but not easy) Action Plan for Transforming Education

Over at ASCD Edge, Walter McKenzie shares A Practical (but not easy) Action Plan for Transforming Education. Below are the components of the plan with my thoughts.
  • Get all the stakeholders to the table
    • McKenzie hits on a recent frustration among educators. While we often have politicians, entrepreneurs, and celebrities at the table making education decisions, we forget some of the most important stakeholders: teachers, students, parents, educational visionaries, community members, etc.
  • Put children first
    • McKenzie suggests that we put aside the political propaganda (my words) and really put children first. There are children behind that data-driven decision making. Let’s not forget that. We must empower them to discover their talents, passions, and interests and learn using all the information and resources they have at their disposal. We can’t continue to allow them to be held back by political BANdates or limited vision, expertise or resources of a class, school or district.
  • Redefine teaching
    • The industrial model of teaching is failing our 21st century learners. We must rethink everything we’ve ever learned about being a teacher and McKenzie shares ideas for doing this.
  • Adopt a campus model
    • My favorite of McKenzie’s suggestions is to take your technology budget and turn it on its head. McKenzie explains we should plan to move to an open campus model where students bring their own technology to schools and hop onto your network for access to resources and information. Educational institutions need to drop the excuses and figure it out just as coffee shops, parks, whole cities, libraries, airports, and more have done. As far as the holy securing student data excuse...stop trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes. Move student data onto a different system...the end.
  • Individualize learning
    • I love McKenzie’s suggestion that every student deserves a personal learning plan with the resources provided to ensure success. I would add to this a talent portfolio that outlines the students interests, abilities, and learning styles. He suggests it’s time to put aside the standardized classroom model and put in place individualized learning for every student and he provides some advice on how to do that.
  • 24/7 Learning
    • We must redefine learning time so that it recognizes learning taking place seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. McKenzie provides some insight on how to do that.
  • K-20 Competency-based Learning Continuum with no age/grade benchmarks
    • McKenzie shares ideas on how to provide learning experiences for students that span their formative years and provide a strong bridge into adult learning and productivity. No grade levels. No age levels; students moving along as they master specific skills and information and are ready to learn.
McKenzie explains that there are many institutional and financial forces in play that will oppose this plan explaining, “That in and of itself is a good indicator that the plan is on the right track!” He advises though that these should not be used as excuses for not moving forward and believes that decision makers are capable of working out these details once they are no longer acting as guardians of the status quo.

McKenzie explains each part of the plan and suggestions for success in more detail. To read his suggestions and the whole article visit A Practical (but not easy) Action Plan for Transforming Education.
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