At Education Reimagined, we constantly talk about the paradigm shift to learner-centered education—a type of shift that fundamentally changes how we see learners and learning. For those who have made this shift, it is self-evident that this is a paradigm shift. Everything about learning and education is changed even though nothing but our way of seeing has shifted.
In this new world, new questions and an insatiable curiosity begin to emerge. Nothing is taken for granted and we consistently ask ourselves, “am I doing this because that’s how it’s always been done and is labeled “best practice” in the dominant paradigm or, given my new view of learners and learning, is this what is best for learners?” With this new lens, we are able to distinguish whether our work is improving the current model of education or inventing a new one.
Why does this distinction matter? Isn’t most innovation worth doing if it is at least an improvement for the learners in that school? At Education Reimagined, we would say it depends on your goal.
If your goal is to create a school with better outcomes for most or all of the students in your community, reform is a path you can take. If your goal is to have a system that can reliably produce unheard of results for ALL learners nationwide, systemic transformation is the only path. The current model has shown it can’t produce knowledge transfer, let alone 21st century results, to ALL learners. According to Thomas Kuhn, when anomalies are seen as the norm by society at large, we find ourselves in a state of crisis, looking for something new to fill the void. That is when paradigm shifts happen.
We become more present to how common anomalies in the current paradigm are when we are able to point to an overwhelming body of evidence. Much of this evidence resides in the experiences of young learners who have experienced learning in traditional and learner-centered systems. A few weeks ago, our Associate Director, Ulcca Joshi Hansen joined five learners on stage at iNACOL Symposium 2017 to showcase this evidence to thousands of attendees. Check out that story and more in the latest issue of Pioneering.