What Really Is THE Next Big Education Thing?
Guest post from Ken Royal.
I wonder what will really be the next big thing in education? I’m preoccupied with the thoughts that for all the appearance of moving forward, we aren’t. Let’s accept the fact that there’s absolutely no hope for education change without using technology, and that the future of education technology for teachers and students, rests in just one learning-unspecific, well-marketed, solution, device, or local movement or maker augmented, or whatever else comes along.
Whatever the next big education thing, it will have to be something that will excite the teaching and learning interests of many more teachers and in turn, their students. I think it will be a combination of things that work together as one classroom learning experience, rather than many disparate classroom road bumps that sidetrack teaching and learning purpose. For that to happen, a lot more emphasis has to be placed on truly meaningful, and specific teaching and learning professional development. Furthermore, for that to happen, more educators need to get involved and participate in a much larger and greater way. Too many educators are silent.
In the past, professional development has usually been attached to specific devices and solutions and their use. For the most part that has been hit or miss, quick stops lacking enough specifics to help educators bring a really new punch back to their classrooms with a knockout learning experience for the majority of (hopefully all) students. Those added value, after-the-sales-pitch, workshops are not professional best teaching practices for development. Few if any educators gain lasting takeaways from those infrequent events, other than the memory that they attended a workshop. When asked, I’m assuming the majority of educators would have a very difficult time putting brief workshop concepts into practical action in a classroom with students. This, again, takes me to the point of asking when we will address the majority of educators, rather than the very few who are already listening. I think that needs as much creative talent tossed at it as we see thrown at hyping celebrity individuals or education products for that matter. Teachers are important, here, and getting more of them actively interested and involved in change is necessary. There’s hidden leadership just waiting to be discovered, and invited to the conversation.
How can this be done? I know that a lot of famous personalities on stages won’t work beyond the limited audience attending, viewing, or listening. That’s been tried and continues to be more marketing than solid education movement needed for change. In many cases, the agenda usually doesn’t get left off the stage either. I think there has to be a new call to action, to borrow a familiar marketing phrase that gets us closer to the point. There are too many silent educators being told and sold ideas and things—and the fact is that most have little to no vested interest—and find no need to get involved beyond their classrooms. There needs to be a shake-up of the vast numbers of silent educators, who enter classrooms daily with similar plans as those carried to class and delivered by their former teaching colleagues in the last century. Changing this could be the next big thing in education and for learning change.
While it could begin at the ground level with educators, it can’t happen without mobilizing the education leadership level in every school and district. Instigating change has to happen in partnership, too. In this, educators and administrators need to act as one. The reality is that none of the other things—products, solutions, devices—matter if we go another decade without fully organizing educators everywhere in a movement, where their silent voices are as loud and important as the most vocal local education thought leader today. It has to be a universal movement under one universal banner. Gathering all educators together is the agenda. This can be the next big thing!
Let me leave you with two thoughts:
- At the local school level, and possibly district level, organize round table sessions to discuss pre-established specific topics. Make it possible for teachers, administrators, parents, students, all staff, as well as community members, to sit and talk into action topics of interest and expertise. Invite the local press and media, letting them join in, too. Follow up the talk with action.
- At the national education conference or world education meeting level, organize round table sessions to discuss pre-established, specific topics. Make it possible for teachers, administrators, parents, students, all staff, community members, and known education thinkers to sit and talk into action topics of interest and expertise. Invite media of all kinds to actually participate at the tables, too. Follow up the talk with action.
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Ken Royal is an education writer, editor, and social media consultant with many years’ experience teaching at all levels and writing/editing for major education publications. To follow more of Ken’s writing, subscribe to PowerSchool’s blog below.