Traditional schools today follow very much the same systems set in place during the industrial age, classrooms are set up in the same way, text books follow the same format and exams are the benchmark for measurement of the success of our children. While our world has changed in leaps and bounds and the way we interact with our world has no resemblance of the past and the change continues at an alarming pace, education has stood still. Which begs the question, what do we want our children to take away with them as they graduate from school and enter higher education institutes and the ever competitive and changing world we live in?
The knowledge that is imparted to children through the traditional school system will forever play a role in education – the basic foundation skills of literacy and numeracy are the starting point and building blocks of education. What we recognize in a progressive environment is that delivering content alone does not equip our children with the tools they need to succeed in tomorrow’s world.
In a progressive environment, education serves not as the means to an end, but as the first step in progress which fuels the desire to learn for a lifetime. We want our children to be intrinsically motivated and have the flexibility to adjust to an ever changing world. So we enable our children to developed enhanced skills such as critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration. To function and create change in the modern world, our children must have critical thinking skills such as the ability to question, predict, investigate, analyze, reflect, evaluate and form opinions.
With a strong foundation and enhanced skills our children are not only able to develop a love of learning, but to also carry that through their lives. We also recognize the need to develop their character skills such as curiosity, empathy, adaptability, leadership and initiative. These ‘softer skills’ when learned with foundation and enhanced skills make learning fun and a lifelong process.
To deliver these skills we recognize the need to invest in the ongoing development of our teachers to enable them to nurture the development of these skills and ensure that learning takes place in the classroom. Today the role of the teacher in a progressive environment is very much different than that in a traditional classroom. Teachers need to move from primarily being the information keeper and information dispenser to being an orchestrator of learning where knowledge is co-constructed with the student. Teachers will become facilitators, guides, mentors, sources and resources who make use of spontaneous teachable moments to scaffold children’s learning.
The campus at Clarion school has been designed to enable and encourage learning to take place in all of its environments from the hallways, to the classrooms to the outdoor areas. The design is intentional and the classrooms do not resemble that of a traditional school. Classrooms are set up with different stations to allow children to use their character and enhanced skills to learn foundation skills and apply them through their lives, not just memorize them to pass an exam.
A child who understands the expectation of their contribution to society through awareness of the world around them, is able to articulate an understanding of their role in society for life. And to give children these tools, our teachings must illustrate a deep knowledge of subject matter and create opportunities for children to actively engage in learning. The opportunities to read, write, explore, discover, reflect, invent, and become engaged with the world are all encompassed with the experiences that the children have.
Today’s children are the leaders of tomorrow, the innovators, the scientists and it is our responsibility to plant within them the seeds of knowledge and instill a joy for learning which will enable them to become engaged and successful contributors to society. Our goal is to ignite within them a natural curiosity to love to learn which they will carry with them though their entire lives. This can lead to meaningful learning and the development of critical thinkers.
Author: Dr. Kandace Williams, Superintendent Clarion School