Many of our education systems being used today were created around the farm. We have long summer breaks because children were needed to help on the farm. It’s evolved over time as factories and assembly lines took over the economic driver. And now over the past few decades it has been grappling with how to change in a digital information era.
And then COVID-19 hit, schools closed, and children were sent home (mostly).
Schools, like office buildings, stood empty. Home learning became the hot google search phrase. Some schools put daily workplans and packages together for children to do at home. Some didn’t, said to play and explore, then changed their mind as the weeks grew. Most schools, universities, governments struggled with what to do around tests, exams, and so on.
Remote learning using digital spaces can be powerful – if you have access to a device and if you have some sort of digital literacy. Perhaps that’s an assumption we need to check? Then there is the challenge of how to be safe online, which is continually evolving challenge too.
But we also know that trying to replicate the in person classroom experience online doesn’t work. The process needs to be rethought, reimagined. And that is hard when your frame of reference is four walls. Maybe we need to consider those who never had four walls to begin with, maybe we need to look at them. The Khan Academy and Akimbo are good places to start. Not perfect, but a place to start.
And perhaps now is the time to move away from tests and exams and move to projects where we show our work. Where we apply the concepts, not just regurgitate them. But I don’t know if that works across all areas of study.
And of course the biggest challenge is not about concepts, its about the engaging with other humans and the skills this involves. Maybe we learn from meetup.com but that’s self-organisation around topics that we are interested in and generally people we agree with. Somehow and more importantly we need to figure out how to engage, connect, debate with people who have different opinions and perspectives to us.
I don’t know what education will look like in the future. I hope it is not ‘going back to what it was’. Education, like our offices, like our communities needs to be reimagined. Maybe we don’t need the four walls, but perhaps maybe we do, just for different reasons than we thought.
And the most amazing thing about it all is that we live in this time, it is up to us. We have a part to play. We get to do this. together.