“Is there a better way or another way?” A question such as this has often been the start of a new way of seeing things, of new inventions and of new learning journeys. There are many who are asking questions about education. There are those who have experience from within the various systems and many who have little experience other than their own education but who are entitled to ask none the less. What is the question we should be asking about education at the moment? Judging by the response to whatever the latest international comparisons are (PISA and the like) we could be forgiven for thinking so. Whatever appears to work in one country according to a league table almost instantly becomes the next new initiative in another in an attempt to do better at education.
My argument is that this is the wrong question to ask as far as education is concerned for the simple reason it does nothing to unite people, research, policies and approaches in away that leads to sustained improvement and the development of an education system that will meet the needs of all. If we could only agree on what our needs are and the purpose of education! I had a stab at exploring this a while ago, you can read about my ideas here, ace-d There are too many views on what is best and too many ideas of how to achieve it. Perhaps there is no one way but there may be one question that will guide and provide the compass we need to ensure we are travelling in the right direction.
So what is the question we could ask that will give the focus we need to develop a “fit for purpose” education system? To me the question has its roots in the past and its focus in the future. It reflects what was in education and what there now needs to be. I am prepared to share with you where I have got to in framing this question on the understanding that you will help me refine it. So here it is.
“What type of education system do we need, one that is knowledge based or one that is learning focused?”
The two types are not exclusive and are compatible, the issue is over the balance. We need some knowledge but knowledge for knowledge sake can be limiting and certainly has a shelf life in terms of education. The idea of focusing on learning does not exclude building knowledge but it does provide a context for the knowledge which to me builds understanding.
I will leave it there for now and look forward to receiving your comments.