Plane thoughts – part 4

I recently participated in a meeting for the EdCan Network, part of the Canadian Education Association, in Mississauga. I knew we’d be talking about some heavy issues regarding education in Ontario, especially K-12 education. I spent my time on the flights down and back writing some thoughts I’d been wrestling with. I’m planning to share those thoughts in small posts for a little while. Here’s the fourth entry, which is based on some other peoples’ thinking that I had a chance to hear. 

Today’s schooling seems to focus on two types of problems.

First, it tries to address the problems of tomorrow. Prepare for your career. Set goals. You may need this someday.

Second, it tries to deal with some problems that are immediate and accessible. There are social injustices, environmental problems, health concerns. These are issues that students can discuss, appreciate, and have an impact upon. I know of some teachers who work with their students on these meaningful todaythings instead of just possible tomorrowthings.

However, we shouldn’t forget that relevant learning does not only include long-term skill development and problems in the community. But we typically value those problems as “significant” when comparing them to other activities, like developing your identity, expressing your feelings, appreciating culture, and exploring history.

We need to be careful not to overvalue social, environmental, and political change in such a way that it diminishes the other kinds of change that can be meaningful to individuals. We can’t judge the importance of one kind of learning for everyone when its value is necessarily individual. We can’t determine the impact these learnings may have on our children and on our future society.

This kind of learning is less specific but more fundamental.

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