Sunday, 26 January 2014

Who Are Schools For?

Want to be Queen or King of your own little kingdom?
Have total control over 30 young people every day?
Have complete domination over what happens in the four walls of your classroom when the door is closed?

Be a teacher. Or at least that's how it used to be.

Today it's not, or it shouldn't be, about the teacher having control or about the teacher being comfortable. And it certainly shouldn't be about change in pedagogy and practice happening at the rate the teacher is ready for.

What should it be about?

It should most definitely be about the learners.

If we know that, without doubt,every child learns at a different rate and in a different order than each other, then how are we possibly meeting their needs by teaching them all the same thing, in the same way at the same time?

If we know that we learn from a range of other people- old, young, similar, different to us, then how are we meeting our learners needs by putting them in a classroom with only people of a very similar age?

If we know that we learn best when the learning is relevant to ourselves, why is so much of what happens in schools "just in case" learning?

If we know that we learn best using multiple strategies and with different people at different times, why do we insist on putting 30 students together with one adult and creating a dependency on one person?

How would it look if we had learners from multiple years together?

How would it look if the learning was based primarily and significantly on learners inquiries and the teachers role was to facilitate the learning and help the learners focus on their next learning steps, on an individual basis?

How would it look if we had multiple teachers working with larger groups of students sharing responsibilities for all learners as appropriate?

How would it look if students had a real say in constructing their school day, week and year?

At Te Karaka Area School these are all things we are doing.

Teams of teachers work together to plan and meet the learning needs of a group of multi-year students.
Learning has been de-privatised. Teachers don't own a classroom at TKAS. Learning spaces are multi functional and continually being re arranged. They are for learning, not for teachers to claim ownership of. There are no four walls to an individual classroom that can be closed off to give a teacher unlimited control and power.
Furniture and spaces are flexible, students constantly rearrange furniture to suit the purpose of what they are doing.
Technology is used to support learning anywhere, any place.

It's not about waiting for teachers to be ready. It's not about teachers needing control over their own space.  It's about learners, what they need, and how to empower and support them to get there.

Want to see a community with 50-60 students ranging in ages over five chronological years all learning together?
Want to see how students, even those with limited literacy skills, can take real ownership of their school day and week through constructing their own learning and timetables?
Want to see what it looks like when 60 students in a community are all inquiring into different things?
Want to see teachers truly collaborating and taking collective responsibility of student learning?

Take some time out and come and see TKAS for yourself.
Or enter into an online discussion with us about why and how we think this is the best possible way for our young people to be learning.

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