It has often been uttered, that “only the fittest survive.” But when it comes to education, it seems things that might not even be that fit have continued to survive. However, just like in living species through time - dinosaurs, sabre tooth tigers and the wooly mammoth just to name a few - even things that have lived on for a long time eventually go extinct. So, with that in mind, it seems educational evolution is occurring too and extinction might be inevitable for a variety of standard educational pedagogy, tools and practices.
HERE ARE MY FIVE THINGS THAT COULD BE EXTINCT SOON:
- Textbooks/Single Source Curriculum: (this includes ebook textbooks too). Regardless of whether they are digital or not, depending on and surviving on one text as the foundational source of information and context - regardless of course, age group and purpose - seems almost prehistoric at this point. Information changes daily and resources are born every minute on line. Anyone doing serious academic work cannot depend on one source for all of their information. Indeed, high quality information is already, and should be, free. It would be a crime to model anything else for students other than searching for, combing through and then using the most appropriate and relevant sources/information for their respective project and learning. Naturally, this is already having serious implications on those who like to sell textbooks and curriculum. Again, high quality and diverse information is already free, so they will have to sell something else or go extinct as well (The Death of Textbooks?).
- Top Down Leadership: Even mainstream publications like EdWeek have declared this dead( What's The Opposite of Top Down Leadership?). If you want an organization to be truly collaborative, creative, personalized, customer-oriented and more, they will have to be trusted. One cannot create a policy or procedure for everything. Passion and enthusiasm have to be cultured, fostered and modeled. And then, leaders will have to allow team members to be their own leaders, to make their own decisions and to pursue the organization’s goals with their own individual vigor, rigor and focus. This is one that will sound good to most, but be hard to model and live by for many.
- Compliance for Compliance-Sake: Stemming from down leadership, organizations have created dozens, if not hundreds, of policies, procedures and even practices that are simply about compliance. In the classroom, we see this in homework, syllabus signatures and so much more. In ed. organizations, we see this in things like submitting lesson plans weekly, posting the standards/objectives on the board. And in all cases, folks are spending more time complying vs. doing the real work. These compliance checks were created and evolved for all in leadership positions - whether a teacher in a classroom, a site leader or even superintendent - to do low level and cursory checks on people. These are not about real work, but about following directions and exerting authority. And because of that, they have little impact on real learning or progress. Again, whether they be students or teachers or administrators, they will have to presented with relevant, engaging and empowering challenges and then be trusted to get there. Compliance will only get you one so far, but trust with support will go far beyond.
- One Size Fits All: Customization and individualization are the international pedagogy of the free world. We can pretend or deny it, but it’s futile. If you want people to buy-in and perform - again whether they are students, teachers or administrators - one will need to offer them choices on how, when, where, etc. Choice creates personal connection and empowerment. The choices need to be legitimate and even sometimes narrowed, but they need to be there. High-level learning and high-level ownership of that learning can only come from individual buy-in and pursuit with passion. This will foster creativity and further thinking. If you want to advance beyond compliance, you have to create choices, options and ways for the individual to emerge in the group or team efforts. For students, this will be about what projects and how they are executed. For teachers, this will be what professional growth goals and how they pursue them. For leaders, this will be about having freedom and autonomy to change practices in order to achieve newer and higher goals/results (Mass Customized Learning They Key To Real Education Reform).
- Depending on Delivered Professional Development & Learning: Traditionally, just like classroom learning for students, educators have learned to depend on other educators leading them through various professional development. Don’t get me wrong, spending quality time with people that have unique perspectives, experiences and insights will never go away or not be potentially productive. Attending professional events like conferences and other gatherings will always have their place, but professional development has now gone grass roots and organic with educators, and other professionals, connecting, sharing and learning from one another through Twitter and other social media networks (Twitter for Professional Development, Social Media Transforms Professional Development). But even beyond all of the free and varied online means for educators to connect to educators and determine their own professional growth journey, we really have a departure going on in the world of learning and professional development. Even face-to-face gatherings have gone beyond the traditional conference and moved towards the unconference model or Edcamps (Insider's Guide To Edcamps, What Makes Edcamps So Popular With Teachers?). The point is that adult learners or professionals(again just like our students), have the desire, and now the power or potential, to guide their own development. They need time, connections to various networks of like-minded professionals and professional passions to pursue. Their professional development experiences will not have to be purchased, packaged or presented.
(images courtesy of Pinterest and Foter)