In a world increasingly insistent on change, Action on Education is campaigning for a better, bolder, brighter future for childhood education and for new and improved children's educational rights.
Education could be the most enjoyable experience of a lifetime, it could be fun, empowering, nurturing of good relationships and promoting of individual autonomy; it could and should provide the foundation of an engaged, fulfilling and happy life. But far too often, failures in our structures of education foster alienation, frustration, animosity and disengagement. Many of us would go so far as to say that our schools continue to reflect the fact that we have still not yet overcome a structurally violent, class-stratified past.
We can do a lot to improve schools for everyone's benefit. And we must do it. Until we do, it is children and families who will continue to pay the price.
It is nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.
~ Albert Einstein
You can click on any of the quotes on this website to read more of what our greatest minds thought about the way we school children.
Now imagine, when children go to school, they don't just get a seat in a classroom and a teacher to teach them what they are taught, when they are taught it (because almost no children think that's amazing), rather they enter upon a vast educational landscape, comprising learning opportunities from all levels of study, the tools to navigate that landscape, to explore, discover and take ownership of thier experience, to know the level at which they are studying, territory explored/unexplored and challenges related to those already undertaken. Imagine them being able to build the skills of self-ownership, set goals based firmly on their own needs and interests and have a record of progress that allows those involved in their care to understand them, educationally.
And imagine how they might feel about the experience.
Equipping schools to deliver education in the way children want it is more than just common sense. We have always failed to give children the educational opportunities and experiences they want and deserve. The results are costly failures that attack the very foundations of personality, family and the institutions and relations of society. There cannot be a single part of our society that is not negatively impacted (some very seriously) by the failures in our structures of education. Education is just too important; getting it wrong simply should not be tolerated.
Children Must Have:
Access to a body of high-quality, integrated and easily navigable educational content which is expansive enough to meet their highest aspirations.
Tools which offer an overview of, and act as a map for, the entire education experience.
The opportunity, throughout school, to look outwards at the professional world, in order to better understand their subjects, to better understand their opportunities for working life and to better convey their needs, interest and their own expectations of schooling.
In our schools today, an overemphasis on conformity, impersonality and punishment has led many observers to liken our schools to prisons for children! Imagine that. But I for one will not challenge that perception. I know very deeply how children and their families (and thus by implication society) can be greatly negatively affected by our outdated educational structures. No teacher on Earth can realistically provide for all the children under their charge, and yet the reality is that we need all of them to. The sheer impossibility of the teacher centered model, surely, is all the evidence we need that our school system fails at the level of its fundamental design. Sadly, of course, it is children and families who are made or left to feel responsible and ever more children today are being medicated, simply to be able to continue complying with what they must know, on some level, is a tragic failure in those responsible figures they were relying on.
If we can only care enough about childhood education to build it, children - and all those involved in their care - can have extraordinary tools for engaging with their experience, facilitating family involvement and reducing or eliminating obstacles children face in communicating their experiences, needs and successes to the outside world.
Growth and mastery come only to those who vigorously self-direct. Initiating, creating, doing, reflecting, freely associating, enjoying privacy - these are precisely what the structures of schooling are set up to prevent.
~John Taylor Gatto
Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.
If We Can Succeed
Children will have the tools to take ownership of their experience, challenge constraints and stereotypes and secure outcomes based on their ability and passion, rather than their demographic background.
Teachers will face many more choices over how to organise classwork between individual, group and class activities and will have the tools to develop truly meaningful individualized learning aims.
A school's curriculum will play only a positive role, serving as a well-trodden pathway within a wider landscape, rather than the narrow confines of old.
These are the bases of renewed relationships between children and their teachers, their families, their communities and even the world itself.