Why haven’t education reform efforts amounted to much? Because they start with the wrong problem, says John Abbott, director of the 21st Century Learning Initiative. Overhauling the educational paradigm means replacing the metaphor — the concept of the world and its inhabitants as machine-like entities — that has shaped the education system, as well as many other aspects of our culture.
Creating “Collaborative Learning Communities”
“It is essential to view learning as a total community responsibility,” he says, and to expect no short cuts. Children need to be integrated, fully contributing members of the broader community, so they can feel useful and valued. (It is not just the children who need this, he adds; healthy communities also need children.)
On a practical level, the most powerful lever for change, Abbott says, is people coming together to “rethink the role of community in the learning process,” agreeing how to divide up responsibilities among professional teachers and other community members, and then launching small pilot projects that are true to their new vision. These efforts will build on each other, he says, and large-scale change will follow.
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