I believe that innovating in education is a matter of social justice.
In the current and prevailing paradigm of standards and core curriculum, there is an inherent one-size-fits-all assumption of children. Children of a certain age are expected to know and understand a certain body of knowledge. Inherent in a strategy that works this way is that it will work very well for a few children, and not work so well for the majority. The data reflects this, and in fact, data shows that there is a strong correlation between socio-economic statuses of privilege and success in school. If we continue in the current paradigm we risk perpetuating the achievement gap. We risk the continuous transformation of the American Dream into the American Lie. Innovation in education can break this pattern. We can prepare ALL children for the 21st century.
I believe that a teacher’s greatest tool is compassion and love for the community, families, and children they serve.
In a field where our practices are attacked by those who don’t practice our profession, we have had to advocate for ourselves. In a field where our financial compensation compares to the lowest paying jobs in the country, we have had to have deeper reasons to sustain passion in our work. In a field where we constantly face misunderstanding and constant disrespect towards children and the people who work with children, we have had to respond with dignity.
Our compassion and love fuels us. It guides us. It primes us to do our best with the understanding of what is at stake. It validates our work. If you do not have compassion and love for the children and families, I do not predict a long and happy career in this field.
I believe that knowledge is subjective and is built within the mind.
I differentiate information from knowledge. To those that argue that knowledge is not subjective (i.e. 1+1 indeed does equal 2), they refer to information. That is not knowledge until it is built and constructed within the mind to be true. The teacher’s role in the construction of knowledge, then, would be in guiding and facilitation rather than delivering content and information.
This isn’t a matter of whether I believe there is a core body of classical information that all children should have (to which I would very quickly respond that I do NOT believe that, and I view that to be a matter of social justice), this is a matter of how learning works and how knowledge is created.
If knowledge is constructed from within, one can infer that knowledge, then, is subjective. I believe that. The theories that we have and hold about how the world works is based on the context, experiences, and our dispositions. How one person reacts to reading this will depend on their own circumstances.
If knowledge is subjective and built within the mind, then I also believe that all points of view are valuable. I do not diminish or devalue other points of view, in fact, I welcome it and take pleasure in the interesting nature of knowledge construction. I hope you find interest in my point of view as well.
I believe that there is a great need for innovation in education.
Look at this picture of a classroom. It was taken during the Industrial Revolution.
Now, if you Google the word classroom into Google Images, here’s what shows up:
The classrooms then don’t look all that different from what classrooms look like now. Children sitting in rows, all doing the same thing at the same time. In fact, some people think that it’s ideal when children are well-behaved, and by “well-behaved” they mean quiet and obedient (Note: Surely, not all classrooms look this way, but the prevailing image of what classrooms ought to look like use many of the same principles that were used hundreds of years ago. That’s the problem I’m pointing out).
In a time when our world is facing very complex problems that require creative ideas and innovative solutions, our classrooms need to reflect that. Businesses constantly use words like dynamic, creative, innovative, and future. Our schools could embrace those words, too. It’s a particular problem in early childhood education. For example we are having a very necessary and very important national dialogue about technology in early childhood classrooms, but the question shouldn’t be if we should be inviting technology into classrooms, the question should be how. That would reflect an embracing of the future and innovation.
I search for innovative ideas. People who break away from “tried and true.” Because somewhere within some of the ideas that break away from the current paradigm is the future of early childhood education.