I think Sarah Thorneycroft gets it right. In commenting about a student-led Minecraft workshop held online last week, she writes:
Perhaps the best aspect of the session today was that it was truly a ‘flipped classroom’ – not through swapping homework with classwork, but through reversing the roles of teacher and learner and turning learning heirarchy on its head. Learning led by kids is challenging and valuable – it’s learning by exploration and questioning, not rote process memorisation. Kids innovate and create first and think later.
Those who have been reading here for a while know my thinking on teachers needing to be learners first, needing to be the learning experts in our communities, not just the subject matter experts. In a world where knowledge and information are changing so fast, where there is so much to know, education has to be more about preparing kids to be learners rather than learned. Unfortunately, I still get the sense that most educators struggle with that shift. Sure, they continue to learn about what they teach, but few see themselves as master learners. In fact, for many, the idea of being a learning “expert” them uncomfortable.
That’s dangerous, especially right now when so many people outside of education are driving the conversation around reform. We’re ceding the debate to non-educators when we are the ones who should be driving it. We need to reframe the conversation, we need to redefine what education looks like, make it something where “success” isn’t measured by test scores or the number of AP courses we offer or the percentage of kids that go on to college but, instead, whether or not the kids that leave us are true learners, kids who have the skills and dispositions to edit their world, create complex work of quality and beauty and significance, work with one another to change the world for good, and tackle any problem that comes their way.
That is not a place we’ll arrive at if we let Bill Gates or Jeb Bush or Scott Walker or Arne Duncan continue to drive the reform bus. And as more moneyed interests become invested in maintaining the status quo, we’ll get farther and farther from that goal.
WE are the learning experts in our communities. (Right?) WE need to lead. And WE need to dive into learning right now, just like those kids in Sarah’s Minecraft class. Flipping that lens, I think, will have a lot to do with flipping the larger conversation around change.