The past and the future

I saw this graphic on Twitter today (via Chris Cline) and it made me think. Are there really two types of schools, or is this really an oversimplification? I would argue from my own experiences of visiting hundreds of schools across the globe, that there is actually a spectrum. Clearly the binary is used as a rhetorical device, and in reality, each teacher is unique in the way they approach and practice their pedagogy. And yet there is a cogent argument in this statement.

I believe that what Wes Kieschnick is arguing here is that some schools develop a culture that militates against future oriented education. If schools ignore the need to prepare young people for a future that is uncertain and volatile, and instead fall back into the comfortable armchair of content delivery, then they fall into the latter category. If they focus on developing children's abilities to think critically, solve problems and express themselves creatively, they will be preparing them for a future that will probably demand such skills. If teachers encourage children to learn from their failures and challenge them to never give up, they will be developing grit and resilience. If, instead of focusing solely on facts and content, teachers also show children how to generate their own content and be wise to the provenance and veracity of the content they discover online, they will give them a fighting chance in a world riddled with fake news and post-truth.

This is not a debate about whether progressive or traditional teaching is uppermost. It's a discussion around far more important issues and rises above the petty and unproductive squabbling that currently rages on social media. The trads and progs can argue who's right and who's wrong, until they are blue in the face. While they are doing so, the problem is growing that children need learning that will be useful to them when they encounter problems we cannot currently anticipate. It is an important decision that every teacher, every senior management team and every funding body needs to consider: how do we future proof education?

Image by Wes Kieschnick

Creative Commons License
The past and the future by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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