Part of the challenge in educational reform is that not everyone defines learning or education the same way. Sure, we all refer to things such as literacy, college and career ready, 21st century skills, etc.
However, what is the core purpose of one’s education? Beyond specifics related to employment skills, literacy skills and standards mastery, I offer up this idea: Education is meant to transform one’s life. In other words, education has to dramatically, or even radically, transform the person into a new, improved person that is more emotionally, socially, and intellectually ready for any challenge the world has to offer.
Should we as educators not be fascinated with the idea of transformation? Think about it. When you reflect on your own education, what key experiences or learning opportunities can you identify that essentially changed you as a person? I would venture to say that if you made a list, it would look similar to mine.
So, as we ponder on the idea of Transformative Education, let’s reflect upon things that we all experienced in our educational lives and whether they transformed us or not. If we can agree that Transformative Education is important and what is actually transformative, we might be able to begin dismissing so much of what drives the discussion in education and education reform.
Here are 10 items each to illustrate what is transformative and what rarely is:
· Caring, Passionate and Connected Teachers, Administrators and Staff Members
· Real World Connections – Field Study, Work Experience, OTJ (On-the-job Training), Field Trips, Job Shadowing
· Co-Curricular Activities and Opportunities – athletics, performing arts, visual arts, competitive academic teams,
· Peers and Peer Relationships
· Student-lead projects
· Positive and Supportive School Cultures
· Student and Adult Collaboration
Non - Transformative (Or At Least Rarely)
· Standardized Tests
· Curriculum Packets, Packages
· Classroom Management
· Typical School District Initiatives
· Flow Charts, Venn Diagrams and Other Graphic Organizers
· Standard Classroom Procedures
· Points, Credits, Grading Systems
In theory, these lists could make some in education very angry. They probably should. After all, we spend a great deal of time on things that probably never change or transform a student’s life. Well, this might indicate the time has come to move beyond the norm and focus on what really matters in the education of young people. Sounds simple right? I wish it were. But maybe isolating what we do on such fundamental things like transformation is the beginning.