By Mary-Dean Barringer, CEO, All Kinds of Minds
“The Teachers of 2030,” in the May 2010 issue of Educational Leadership, is a thought-provoking article about the future of the teaching profession. Authors Renee Moore and Barnett Berry draw attention to the fact that an important voice is missing from current education policy discussions – particularly those around teacher effectiveness and student learning – the teacher’s. They make a compelling case that we must bring the teacher perspective from the margins to center stage, and they provide insight into how practicing educators often have a more inspiring vision for changes that could better support learning than those who are currently dominating the microphone in today’s national education discourse.
The article’s Teachers of 2030 see what many of the futurists quoted in our book, Schools for All Kinds of Minds, describe. They envision a future where the Internet facilitates more “personalized learning,” where accountability systems are tied to individual student growth, where learning comes from both “near and far,” and where “teacherpreneurism” facilitates the deployment of educator expertise in new, varied, and creative ways. These ideas echo a similar vision suggested by the KnowledgeWorks Foundation in their 2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning, which contends that these changes are coming and will be here faster than most of us realize.
Underlying all of these futuristic ideas about the teaching profession is that it will – and must – transform into a learning profession. Thus, I challenge the teachers and other educators who have taken part in All Kinds of Minds’ work over the past decade to speak up and lend your voices to bringing about this transformation. Why? Because I believe this transformation is what will broadly enable breakthrough knowledge about learning variation to help our most complex learners find success, and at the same time help us re-invent education for the benefit of all.
So how do we begin to create a learning profession? I invite you to spend some time this summer reflecting on this question – and engaging with us and with each other in a conversation about it.
Here are some ideas to get this conversation started:
- Take 15 minutes and watch Sir Ken Robinson’s recent TED talk, in which he suggests that we are facing a second climate crisis — one that involves human resources instead of natural resources. He argues that we make poor use of talent and that schools are the biggest contributor to dislocating people from their talents. He notes that as with natural resources, we often have to dig deep to discover individual talent resources. Sir Robinson asks, “Can we start a learning revolution to end the human resource crisis?”
- Stacy Parker-Fisher, program officer at the Oak Foundation, wonders about creating a “learning expert corps” modeled after Teach for America. “What would schools do if they had learning experts come in for a few years as part of their human capital systems? How would they use them?”
- Karen Triplett, an All Kinds of Minds facilitator in North Carolina, dreams of running a summer “Mind Camp” for students. “Imagine: It would be an experience where everyone would discover their learning profiles. They would unearth their talents and strengths, claim their passions and affinities, and learn strategies for dealing with the things they just aren’t wired to naturally do well.”
- A California charter school featured on John Merrow’s Learning Matters launched a brilliant idea for the last six weeks of school following end-of-year testing. Teachers are given the freedom to teach what they love and create “selectives” for students. Student groups put on a theatrical production, take part in a local government initiative, delve into a genre of literature, create instructional media games. Teachers and students alike get to pursue what they love to learn and do, and it’s a great way to discover talents and affinities.
What steps can we pledge to take as today’s learning revolutionaries? How can we work toward making the understanding of an individual’s learning profile the foundation for each student’s educational trajectory? In what other ways can we bring a stronger focus on using affinities and passions to guide a student’s mastery of key tasks, processes and scholarship?
Raise your voice. Become a revolutionary. Post a comment here or our Facebook page. Create a YouTube presentation and share it with us. React to these ideas and offer up your own. Share what you think we need to do to transform the teaching profession into the learning profession.