On a recent trip to Ballarat and visiting Sovereign Hill (which was ace, if you live in Melbourne go there!) it became very obvious that schools haven’t moved on for years! Dare I say hundreds of years. Students sit in rows, move in blocks of time, every second is timetabled. Stepping back to Ballarat of the 1800’s the School resembled so much of what schools still look like today. A room with rows, a board, sit, be quiet and learn. When will we get it? There is so much talk about moving schools into contemporary learning places but how much is actually getting done and what is stopping us? Are we slaves to final year examinations? Is the University entrance process flawed and not supporting 21st competencies? We know examinations don’t assess the skills required to thrive in the 21st century. Yet we are still following a system that is decades old and not allowing students to deepen their learning experience. We just scratch the surface of learning.
The work of John Medina in brain rules highlights this:
Our schools are designed so that most real learning has to occur at home. If you wanted to create an education environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a classroom.
This graphic by Richard Wells pretty much sums up what we all know about our schools. The timetable is killing learning. Why we expect students to attend 6 chucks of time at 50 minutes each day and hope they are digging deep with their learning is one of the biggest flaws of our current school structures.
What do I want to see? Extended time where students can drive their learning. Time given to students which allows them to go deeper with their learning. That the school day is not dictated by times, bells and lets students learn in an organic way. The way the brain was meant to learn.
Let’s get to the What Ifs
- What if we didn’t have a timetable?
- What if we didn’t have subjects?
- What if students only came to school when they needed support?
- What if schools were agile enough to flip everything in 20 minutes?
- What if true creativity and innovation were in schools – not just the rhetorical we hear?
Let’s face it did we ever think we would see the day when collecting images and experiences online and curating them would be a thing. Nope but it is and it’s Pinterest. What about a company that provides taxi services but doesn’t have any taxi’s? Uber another example of disruptive thinking. What if we changed the time table in the same way. What if student’s came to school to learn and not just move from class to class. What if we changed how we use time? Is our current school structures killing learning? The short answer……..yes