As we, in New York, now know that we are not going to see our students face to face until September at the earliest, I think it is the perfect time to reflect on what we do as educators. Distance learning will cause some fundamental changes in how we teach our students, but we have to ensure we are focusing on the positive changes to what we do, not just the fads.
In essentialism, Greg McKeown defines essentialism as, “less but better.” We do a lot in our classrooms, not all of it better. We have started to see politicians make grand pronouncements about what they think education should look like going forward. As Mr. McKeown states, “we can either make the hard choices for ourselves or allow others . . . to decide for us.”
My first draft of what I think are essential to education is this:
- Passion – we have to help children identify what they are passionate about and use that to personalize their learning.
- Empowerment – we have to empower students to take control of their own learning, which means we have to give up control.
- Inquiry – we have to help students understand that life is about asking questions not about having all the answers.
- Understanding – we need to help students truly understand and be able to apply what they learn to novel situations.
That’s my short list. I realize that these are four very broad ideas. However, I think they are a good start. I would love to hear what you think about how pandemic learning can change what we do for the better. Please answer one or more of the questions below or make your own list of essentials in education in the comments.
How will distance learning change what we do permanently? What do you think is essential in education? What are the core values we should be using to guide what we do in classrooms across America?