It was wonderful to see so many of you at SXSW EDU last week. The party we co-hosted with our dear friends at Next Generation Learning Challenges and Big Picture Learning was the best we’ve hosted yet. Every person I reconnected with or met for the first time was doing such incredible learner-centered work.
The collaboration I witnessed over the course of a few short hours furthered my drive to help create more and more spaces for learner-centered pioneers to gather, reenergize, collaborate, and push each other’s thinking. Nothing beats the power of in-person, human-to-human connection.
Throughout the evening, I heard questions like: Why do we have curriculums? Why do we cohort kids by age? Why do we break learning into subjects? Why do adults plan what learners will do before they have even met them? Each question elicits a wide range of answers that are appropriate to the specific communities each pioneer serves. And, in turn, our collective society will benefit in ways we’ve never seen before. Actually shifting the questions that drive us will be what has us succeed in transforming the system.
Our shift in inquiry results from the mindset or paradigm shift we experience internally. I always distinguish between the mindset or paradigm people are in and the state of the model. Most people think that the more “advanced” or “fully developed” a model is, the more learner-centered they are. In our world, those things are not necessarily correlated. The mindset shift is a switch in how you see the world-specifically how you see the purpose of education, who learners and young people are, and how learning happens. Once that switch is flipped, you can’t see the world in the same way.
The paradigm shift is the beginning. The model development is what happens next. Our work is finding those people who are in the same paradigm and, therefore, have these new questions and are in different stages of developing answers to those questions.
I love being part of this movement and getting to be with such amazing and courageous pioneers who are constantly asking new questions and evolving new pathways for young people all over the country!
Enjoy this issue of Pioneering!