Student’s vision of a their ideal school from an Imagining Learning Listening Session in Seattle
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Every day we are presented with news stories, and countless blog posts presenting a negative narrative of the state of learning, education, and schools in America today. We talk about outcomes and test scores, about accountability and rigorous academics, about drop out rates and bad teachers.
We are really good as a nation about voicing what we do not want and what is not working, yet we spend little air time presenting a story of what we do want.
While these negative narratives helped to rally educators, students, parents and communities to stand up together and try to reclaim their voice in education transformation, it has not helped us move towards a positive vision of what education can be.
As we stand up to rally on the steps of city hall or at the Department of Education, or at school board meetings or state capitals, let us rally for a Transformed education, for a positive vision of learning, for education and learning that matters.
Let’s use our energy and our coming together to OPT IN to what we want our education to look like, and start to collectively vision both locally and nationally towards these visions.
What is your positive vision for a transformed education?
Visioning is the process of imagining preferable future possibilities and probabilities to set forth a plan for transformational action. The definition of visionaries I am using is offered by David Hicks, as “those who offer visions of an earth transformed and who work to help” make it so (David Hicks, pg 15 2010) Visioning can be traced back to antiquity, but was popularized in the 1950’s by the Dutch historian and one of the founding fathers of Futures studies, Fred Polak. Since the 1950’s visioning has become a popular way for groups, organizations and individuals to come together around a set of ideas that drives their mission forward.
Linda Stout believes visioning is a verb, something active that people do together that helps them move from a problem to creating solutions. (2011, Pg 14) In terms of transforming education, visioning asks the question, first “What do we want the education to look like?” and then, “how do we get there?” By asking these question we are not merely looking to a utopian vision, instead we are presenting our pragmatic “critique of the present time”. It is Linda Stout’s belief that any sustainable long term movement must be centered on a positive vision of what we can accomplishment and what the world will look like once we do. (2011, Pg xvi).
I am passing on this page, because as my followers will know, I do not believe standardized testing helps teaching, learning or accountability…. But I want to offer some push back to this group and others who promote the false idea that somehow if we remove the tests all will be fine in public education. This group claims that removing the test help return a “whole and equitable public education”.
When was there ever a whole and equitable public education, for some maybe, but for all, never. For a more Holistic view of US Education History, look to John Taylor Gatto, former Teacher of the Year, and Ron Miller, author of What are Schools?:Holistic Education in American Culture.
I believe in education by the public for the public, but the test is not the only thing keeping public education from being whole and equitable. We must be willing to question the whole of the system including age grouping, group pacing, desks, gaps in funding, passion-less learning, lack of community and teacher partnership, poverty, etc etc.
We must start envisioning a better system not just fighting againnst something. So while I support and encourage others to support this cause, I also believe we need to remember that we need to transform education systems not only because I believe they are broken, but because there are better ways.
Our children should not be burdened by a system that was created not with their lives or passions or talents or future in mind, but those of another generation by powerful white men with agendas that had nothing to do with learning or human growth or development.
So Stop Standardized Testing, but also envision a future where those tests are gone, what does that learning community look like! I hope it looks nothing like it does now!
Keep Dreaming, and Keep moving in the directions of those dreams!
Important side note I have posted two opt out groups today. This is not the one that is open to everyone being involved, they have rejected the voices of alternative educators, unschooling educators, and any one who differs from their agenda. I say support both, but if you decide to choose I would suggest the group led by Lisa Velmer Nielsen
I have received a thoughtful email from the United Opt out group ensuring me they need and welcome everyone to help in this campaign, be it public, private or alternative educators. I support those who reach out to everyone, because to find ourselves in a more just and sustainable future we need to put aside our disagreements and agree to work together!
UPdated 2: I was recently banned for this group for speaking up to bullying and respectfulness by the people who run the group, most of the group is pretty awesome. So make your own choice, mine was made for me. On a lighter note… I had some amazing corn harvested from my garden. It was kind of a eye opening experience… so good!
-Adventures in Learning
AERO & Patchwork Present: Author Reading with Linda Stout (by Isaac Graves)
Linda Stout gave a talk on Collective Visioning at the Louisville Public Library in Colorado on May 21st. Her new book, “Collective Visioning: How Groups Can Work Together for a More Just and Sustainable Future” is available at educationrevolution.org/visioning.html
This speech is moving, inspiring and just plain brilliant!
Posted by johntspencer ⋅ December 11, 2010 ⋅
Last year in my Multimedia Authoring class, I asked students to create short projects on school reform. Their answers were far from revolutionary. In fact, few of them seemed to want broad, sweeping reforms. Instead, nearly all of them suggested the following:
- Better cafeteria food with real ingredients
- No school busses – nearly every child mentioned the bullying of bus rides as one of the reasons they hated school
- More choice in their assignments or projects
- Replace grades with feedback and portfolios (like we did in our class)
- Staggered start and end times so that the school would “feel smaller”
- More alternative sports in addition to the traditional ones
- Off-campus community service once a week
- Job-shadowing for one month of the year
- A monthly educational field trip
- iPads, netbooks or laptops in classes – they even brought up some interesting ways to raise money for these devices
- More freedom in terms of leaving to use the restroom, eating a snack or getting a drink of water
- More electives – while most of them agreed that we need math, they suggested that maybe they could choose pre-geometry or pre-algebra or in reading, they could have reading classes geared toward certain topics
- A school garden
While a few of those might seem large at first glance, the reality is that most students wanted more authenticity and more autonomy. None of the reforms they suggested involved “back to basics.” None of them included firing all the teachers, either. Instead, they were small, fairly inexpensive reforms that could have been done without the blessing of a politician, pundit or educrat.