From Buzzwords to Fundamental Change

Admit it: We love buzzwords!

“Competency-based,” “personalized learning,” “standards-based,” “21st Century,” ‘college- and career-ready,” “real world,” “student-centered,” “big data.”

That’s just for starters.

These buzzwords were rooted in important initiatives, although it’s true many of these concepts have come and gone. Don’t be fooled, the winds of change driving these initiatives are again starting to blow – and more strongly than ever.

A Crazy Model
Those of us who work in public education know the time-based model is fundamentally flawed.  At the beginning of each school year, we are expected to take a classroom of 20-30 students, all at different starting points, with different interests, learning styles, aptitudes and home lives and get each one to the same academic place on the same day—and then measure their performance with a state test.

This is lunacy, and we know it!

These above-mentioned initiatives – and their buzzwords – came into being to address this lunacy. These competency-based concepts probably would work in a vacuum, but in today’s antiquated model, they would have little impact. You should know why.

Our education system is structured on our old factory assembly line model which made sense 100 years ago. Back then, the purpose of school was to select and sort kids, not get them ready to thrive in a technology-based world. Fast forward to today, and the school year still lasts 180 days, each class typically still lasts 40-45 minutes, no matter the subject, etc, etc, etc. We still set schedules using techniques similar to the old 3x5 index cards. We still govern ourselves by rules, regulations, certification tenure and contracts developed in the 20th Century.

The model simply can’t adopt competency-based approaches.

Our Time Is Now
Advancing technologies have enabled industry after industry to break from their old 19th and 20 century models. Now it’s public education’s time.

Let’s allow technology to take root in our instructional programs. Let’s use technology to fundamentally change the system, not just make the old system marginally better. It’s time to strive for a flexible, automated education system.

Guest Blogger Shows the Way
Our next blog will feature a Q&A with Raymond. J. McNulty, dean of the School of Education at Southern New Hampshire University, and a senior fellow at the International Center for Leadership in Education. He will focus on ways we can fundamentally transform public education. Ray also will be a key presenter at this year’s 25th annual Model Schools Conference, coming up soon in Nashville. You still have time to register!




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