My vision: part 1

In my post on political involvement, I wrote about an in-progress draft of my vision for education. I went back to my notes in Evernote & Scapple, and found that I had drafted about one-tenth of that vision; the rest was in the form of a rough outline.

A year and a half ago, I encountered the idea “working out loud” on Tanya Lau’s blog . I’d like to work out loud more often in 2017, so I’m going to post my vision in installments instead of waiting till I finish the entire piece.


At the moment, I have five elements in my vision of an effective school.

  • Meaningful learning for all students
  • Accountability to community
  • Culture of care
  • Access to resources for all students and family
  • Sustainable facility

1.Meaningful Learning for All Students

Meaningful instruction is not limited to “career readiness” or preparing for state assessments. In my opinion, meaningful instruction begins with student choice.

While it is reasonable for the state to exert some influence in the determination of expected student outcomes, the state’s current influence is shockingly disproportionate to the influence of the school community. Teachers and administration should have a say in student outcomes, but more importantly, students and their families should have at least equal influence – and probably more influence – in determining what these outcomes should be.

Educators and communities should be wary of statements such as “Students need x to be prepared for y” and particularly wary of uncritical definitions of “student success.” We must always ask, “Whose definition of success?” We must also ask, “Whose interests are served by this definition of success?”

We need to re-evaluate the word “success” and create a much more inclusive, much broader definition for this word.

To be continued!


2 thoughts on “My vision: part 1

  1. I am a fan of “working out loud” if only to hear how things really sound … and to get feedback. I appreciated the theme of caring and access for everyone in your Five Elements.

  2. Hi Michael – thanks for your citation – glad I inspired you to publish the first part of your vision! I really love the holistic approach in your vision – in particular the accountability to community, culture of care and access for all speaks of a focus on people and their needs – rather than, large corporate and government interests (often the ultimate beneficiaries – and drivers – of the focus on ‘career readiness’ in schools and education).
    And this starts with students themselves (part 1 of your vision). Where I think it can get complicated is a conflation between what students and their families really want or find meaningful vs what they are told they ‘should’ want – as the messaging around critical skills and ‘students need x to be prepared for y” is so strong and pushed so hard it’s difficult for parents in particular, not to be heavily influenced by it – and in turn exert that influence and pressure on their children. Taking a critical approach as you have suggested (asking whose definition of success? who benefits?) is a starting point – but I wonder whether it’s enough to influence the behaviour of most parents who really just want the best for their kids and to set them up for success – whist parents may recognise that there are corporate drivers behind these messages, when they see their kids falling behind on test results at school, it’s very hard for them not to want their kids to succeed.
    Maybe one way to counter this is to really start with the child – be guided by what they genuinely enjoy doing – the things they get joy out of doing and can do for hours on end (e.g. for my son it is building constructions – out of lego or more recently minecraft worlds), and use this as the starting point for individualised education, or to structure the learning experience. Appeal to parents’ desire to see their kids happy and enjoying what they do rather than bowing to the pressure of external expectations and forces of what their kids ‘should’ be doing.
    Still, until the system changes it’s an uphill battle …but maybe one that can be won from within, at the grassroots level through small steps.

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