Greg Walker, 9/18/13: Stephen Downes in, Connectivism and the Primal Scream states, “At a certain point, we want people to stop being novices, and to start being self-motivated and self-managing learners. The idea that we are treating university students and adults as ‘novices’ is, to my mind, appalling. If a grown adult still requires a teacher to provide encouragement and support, positive role models, to select resources and scaffold learning experiences, then that speaks to the substantial failure of the traditional system of education. To my mind, it is as astonishing a failure as it would be if adults expected their teachers to read the lessons aloud to them.” Thoughts? Agree, why? Disagree, why?
This is a touchy subject, and Downes gets an A for courage.
If we begin with the outcome, independent learners, and reverse engineer the school system to produce students who are able to learn independently with educators as guides and facilitators rather than teachers, I think we’d end up with a completely different system.
A system that’s cultivating students who become increasingly responsible for their own learning from P-12 would gradually replace the lockstep age groupings, standardized curricula, and teacher-led classrooms in the lower grades with open learning environments in the upper grades. The educator’s role changes, too, gradually shifting from teacher to guide, advisor, facilitator, coach, etc.
The open environments would cover a wide range of options, including blended and online, but the primary change would be toward anytime-anywhere learning, with students becoming increasingly skillful in managing their own schedules to complete learning projects on and off campus.
Students would learn from peer tutors and also serve as tutors for other classmates. They would also incorporate MOOCs into their individualized programs. (Yes, MOOCs will become a huge part of secondary education.) School program advisors would play a critical role in the upper grades, guiding students toward objectives that would facilitate transfer to postsecondary programs.
Throughout the model, the focus is on the student, not the school or teacher. The question is always What’s best for the student? and the school’s resources are geared toward guiding her/him toward her goals.
The measure of success for the school and its staff is the percentage of students who enter postsecondary programs prepared to learn independently.