Education Meets Life

Posted by Charles Sampson on 2/2/2017

We spend too much time chasing the next best thing in education. Fads come and go. Under the guise of keeping our systems relevant, we chase those fads and run our students, faculty and parents ragged with change. Schools can fall into the habit of feverishly pursuing new programs, only to drop them before they become fully manifest within our systems. As emerging technologies become more prevalent in our schools, we need to ensure that we are not simply pursuing fads to make traditional school more efficient. We must build upon student experiences to help develop children who more fully realize who they are and how their learning connects to their experience--their own personal narrative within the larger educational context. We embrace personalization or “agency” as a proxy for the deep cultural shifts that must occur to provide true student ownership over learning. Here’s one take on why we need to move beyond catch phrases for something more connected to student actualization:  Dewey had it right almost a century ago when he remarked “education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”

We need to stop chasing shiny new toys and look to change our systems in ways that will allow students to thrive in the modern age. This does not mean embracing every new technology trend as it comes.  Rather, it reminds us that utilizing those technologies for their own sake is meaningless if not connected to the daily existence of our students. The educator’s role is in connecting those technologies where appropriate, building a bold new culture in which students own their learning rather than have it parceled out for them by bureaucratic mandates rife with seat time requirements, outdated assessments and fragmented course offerings.  I am proud of the connections we are building here at FRHSD, where opportunities, learning spaces and student experiences are beginning to drive our curriculum and programmatic development in ways that are profoundly stirring our culture.  Experiences like these highlighted below are becoming the norm:

Moving forward, we must continue to build our programs from the student perspective out. The adult life that our children live will be fundamentally different from ours. They deserve an education that prepares them for that seismic shift.