If you asked people you knew to define "education," I would bet many would say it has something (or a lot of things) to do with "school." It's a reasonable expectation that education and school go together. Maybe 10 years ago (5 years ago?), this would have been true, but in a 21st Century world, I just can't believe these two words are synonymous anymore. Loosely tied, yes, but they are no longer each others' equals. Dan Brown talks a lot about this distinction in his video, "An Open Letter to Educators."
But really though: Education ≠ School.
In this world our students live in now, education has an entirely different meaning and purpose. Education is now the way in which we empower the next generation to seek out problems and solve them through messy trial, error, and eventually collaborative efforts of crazy-hard critical thinking. The purpose of education, of us as educators is to create thinkers, questioners, leaders, doers, and problem solvers. Unfortunately, in many places that's not quite what education is; in many places education creates memorizers, test-takers, followers, and uninspired citizens who accept things for how they appear to be. That's why innovation in education is crucial. We need more of the first rather than the latter.
In my last blog post, Innovation Through the Lens of 9/11, I talked about the unintended job requirements of teachers now. As educators, we have to provide new and different opportunities for students to receive an "education" vs. "schooling" if we ever hope equip them with the "most powerful weapon" we possibly can. Curiosity, change, innovation: these are all elements of what education really is.
So how am I contributing to this changing definition of education... well, I'm working on it. And I'll keep working on it, until I have an answer to the question below. Thanks to George, I also know I may never a complete answer because "there is no end to growth and learning."
On page 4 of Innovator's Mindset, George Couros says that our job as educators is to "... spark a curiosity that empowers students to learn on their own." This was always my goal as a middle school teacher, and still is a goal of mine now as I provide professional development for teachers all over northern Indiana. But the struggle is real. I talk a little about it in my #IMMOOC Twitter reflection.
I am always trying to think about ways I can flip teacher PD on its traditional "sit-and-get" head. How can I move past the specific spoon-fed trainings that many teachers think they want and need, and empower them to learn those things on their own once they realize the power of new (but different) learning opportunities?
My goal moving forward with this book study is to find ways I can more effectively MODEL my specialization in innovative learning vs. TELLING about how to create innovative learning opportunities in education.