23 June 2015

Re-Imagining Public Education: Thoughts on Creative Schools

Nearly three and a half years ago I began this blog with an intense passion about re-imagining public education. During this time, I have continued to learn, encourage, advocate, and speak out about ideas for making school a more enjoyable place for students to learn.

Early posts included Stop Squashing Creativity in Education, written after I saw Sir Ken Robinson speak at NCTE and after I viewed his TED Talk. I offered five ideas for intentional teaching and many of my other posts elaborated on these ideas.

After finishing Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That's Transforming Education, Sir Ken Robinson's newest book, I find myself hopeful and eager to continue the conversations about schooling and transforming the system. While many would say the whole system needs an overhaul, I am interested in Robinson's statement that "it's also essential to make changes within the system as it is." An idea like this means we can begin now, wherever we are.

We can begin changing the conversations, practices, and emphasis we place on test-preparation as a primary means of teaching. We can begin (or continue) listening to students and empowering them to own their learning by providing them choices in what and how they learn. We can involve families and communities in making decisions in our schools to ensure the goals in the schools represent the goals of the larger community. We can redesign school schedules to allow teachers time to collaborate, plan, and create learning experiences for students.

Three of my favorite quotes from the book 

"The fundamental work of schools is not to increase test results but to facilitate learning."
"To transform any situation you need three forms of understanding: a critique of the way things are, a vision of how they should be, and a theory of change for how to move from one to the other."
"Making education personal has implications for the curriculum, for teaching, and for assessment. It involves a transformation in the culture of schools. What does that look like in practice?"
I selected these three quotes to share here because they are the three ideas I've been exploring through blogging for the past several years. 

Since I prefer to be solutions oriented, I suggested that we read up, team up, and speak up. In another post, I suggested that we change the conversation and work toward making schools intellectually engaging and curiosity promoting places where students want to be. Most heart-wrenching in my posts about testing was this post written when my youngest son finished his first year of required state testing and asked me if he could chicken out of testing.

My promise is threefold. I will continue offering a critique of the parts of the public education system not working well for all children. I will continue sharing my vision for change, and I will think more throughly about my theory of change. 

     Whether you've read Creative Schools or not, how do you imagine public education changing? What critique do you offer? What is your vision for change? Your theory of change?


My friend, 
Gwyn, also writes and speaks about creativity in schools. After she read my Stop Squashing Creativity post, we exchanged emails and determined that we share many ideas about the education all students deserve, so I asked Gwyn to guest blog. Her two part post continues to be one of the most read posts at Learning to Muse. Read her two part post here and here