A root cause of the crisis is the application of the factory model of management to education, where everything is arranged for the scalability and efficiency of “the system”, to which the students, the teachers and the parents have to adjust. “The system” grinds forward, at ever increasing cost and declining efficiency, dispiriting students, teachers and parents alike.
The first shift concerns the goal which has to shift from a focus on the efficiency of “the system” to one of putting students first. This is a shift from running the system for the sake of the system (“You study what we tell you to study, when we tell you, and how we tell you, and at a pace that we determine”) to a focus on the ultimate goal of learning (“Our goal is to inspire our students to become life-long learners with a love of education.” All parties—teachers, administrators, unions, parents and students—need to embrace the goal.
Hence education has to shift from imparting a static package of knowledge to a dynamic goal of being able to create knowledge and deploy skills to new situations, whatever they turn out to be. In this world, teaching by transfer of information doesn’t work well. Instead the role of teachers (and parents) becomes one of enabling and inspiring the students to learn, so as to spark the energies and talents of the students.
Communications shift from command to conversation: i.e. a shift from top-down communications (“the sage on the stage”) comprising predominantly hierarchical directives to horizontal conversations (“the guide on the side”) that helps the student discover new resources, solve problems and generate new insights.
Good thoughts on education reform: teachers inspire learning, facilitate discussion and iteration of learning.