If you stare into a blank field over the vastness of empty and untouched hills and plains of the US, you can’t help but to imagine what could be in existence at some point, some day years from now. If you considered education reform in the same regard, what should be one of the first areas of concentration when thinking of where or how to begin?
Let’s begin as Bob Ross would have it, and start with a clean canvas, prepared with some “Liquid white”, as The Joy of Painting showed us weekly, such as the potentials in which a vastness of untouched land would present as well. In painting the picture of education reform, let’s begin with painting what the process of learning would look like.
Begin with bright colors, because we’re used to red, black, and white, and we’re over it.
What about something that surprises, engages, inspires, delights, and causes a pause in the viewers’ initial passing due to a catchy combination or a juxtaposition if you will, of colors that make us stop and think.
For example, what about allowing student choice to guide a students learning path? What about starting with overarching major questions, such as the following:
“What are the ways we can live off the grid safely?”
“What makes vegan lifestyles beneficial and what could a mass change in population and trends mean to our society?”
“What can people do to reverse the course of our planet?”
“What would need to change in order to improve our version of living?”
Consider these questions, and have students interpret their own path towards coming up with an answer. Perhaps they think of construction. Perhaps they think of infrastructure? Perhaps theology? Perhaps capitalism?
Perhaps government is the lens they use to consider where we should begin, and from there decide that farming needs a massive overhaul from everything to the way we slaughter, preserve, protect, maintain, and care for the process of what is farm to table.
Maybe students take that path and run with nutrition, agriculture, sustainability, business, regulations, culture, community, and making decisions that are for the good of all of us living on this planet.
Now, without guidance, we’ve allowed students to run with their own learning — and their own path, and haven’t prohibited any learning with dictating what they learn and when they learn it — which is what traditional education mandates. See any high school in any state for proof.
What if the blank canvas that makes up a student’s path towards preparing themselves best for life post high school — has machines and computers, or construction, or culinary arts, or medicine; should any of the pictures look anything like the others? NO!
So why do we consistently think that education has to look the same for students as well?
You want education reform, let go of the “One size fits all” model, and allow it to not have any restrictions at all except for the one that makes it begin and end without influence to prevent direction, and watch how beautiful the painting is at the end!