The New Moment in Education, Made Possible by Thousands
This post is by Monica Alatorre, Senior Communications Manager of Envision Education
Last week in the Huffington Post, Linda Darling-Hammond announced the launch of the Learning Policy Institute, a new national education think tank dedicated to helping our country deliver equitable and empowering learning for each and every child. She calls for a new model of education, one that leaves behind the old industrial model that our country needed a century ago and that embraces the realities of modern life, with its incredible explosion of knowledge, challenges, and information. This new vision for education, calls for schools that (among other things):
- Provide empowering learning opportunities that develop students' abilities to find and apply knowledge; think critically and creatively; solve problems, communicate and collaborate; and contribute to the improvement of their community and society.
- Are designed, managed, and funded to support this kind of deeper learning for each and every child.
What strikes us at Envision Education about this new venture is its timeliness. On this blog over the past year, in classrooms and faculty lounges around the country, at education conferences and back yard barbeques, the conversation about how to improve schools has been growing, becoming louder and gathering steam. Thousands of people are talking about the same things Darling-Hammond is talking about: equity and opportunity, rigor and relevance, critical thinking and collaboration. Thousands of teachers and parents understand what students need in order to thrive.
Now, thanks to the efforts of Linda Darling-Hammond, those of us who are in the education trenches have a new opportunity to expand the conversation even further and bring the Deeper Learning movement closer to a tipping point in our classrooms and our culture. We may even have have a new venue for making our voices heard.
In his post on this blog two days ago, Rick Lear called attention to the "moral obligation" that teachers have to their students: that teachers are bound to seek ways to improve their practices so that students have every opportunity to grow and thrive. Teachers are not the only people with this obligation: policymakers, education funders, and civic leaders also need to pay attention to what works for students and do everything in their power to deliver it to students.
This is not a moral obligation simply because it's "fair" (although it is) or because it will close those pernicious opportunity gaps (although it very possibly will!). It is a moral obligation because collectively, we as a society need confident, creative thinkers and doers to come up through our schools ready to tackle the next great challenges in business, human rights, the arts, education, human development, information management, and more. As so many people have pointed out, we do not know what problems we will be solving in the future. But we do know, without a doubt, that we need diverse and prepared life-long learners to face, navigate, and solve them. What's good for the student is good for us all.
Darling Hammond, in her Huffington Post article announcing the launch of the Learning Policy Institute, issues an invitation to others - and certainly to the readers of this blog - to join the conversation:
"We are eager to learn with and from others in the education arena and other fields of work, within the U.S. and globally, as well as from data-driven research. We believe that cross-cutting, transpartisan conversations--informed by what many people know about good practice--will help us find solutions to difficult problems. Therefore, we will join with others to organize convenings and forums where together we can develop pragmatic, evidence-based solutions that can address the complex realities facing public schools and their communities."
This is indeed a new moment for education, a moment made possible by every teacher seeking the best for his students, every aspiring college student working tirelessly to overcome obstacles, every school leader making sure her teachers have what they need to do their jobs well. These are the people who are pushing the movement forward.
The questions before us now are: How can we help? How can we be the partners Darling-Hammond is seeking to learn from and collaborate with to develop better public schools? It will truly be exciting and inspiring to witness the many ways teachers and school leaders answer these questions in the coming months.