I have watched, viewed and read with interest over the last six weeks as everyone has found a way to navigate through these interesting times we find ourselves in.
I need to write a disclaimer here that I am currently on sick leave so while I watch the twitter discussions, facebook feeds, professional writing and gatherings online I am in the slightly privileged space of being able to observe while not having to implement or coach and lead others to implement.
I hear the cries for change- that we've proven that we can change schools very rapidly and we need to keep these changes and this pace of change when we return to whatever our new normal is. I also hear the counter arguments that a solution in times of emergency can not and should not be transferred back into everyday practice.
I can understand both schools of thought.
However I do think this situation provides a window of opportunity to self reflect- particularly on the issue of engagement versus compliance. If you think you are getting engagement with learning because students have to attend your class and do what you say is it really engaging or is it a compliance? How do we get real engagement? If you are not getting engagement now why? It could be the personal circumstances of the student. It could be the inequities of the situation and their lack of access to the tools and resources. And it could be because they just don't connect with the learning being offered when they are not being forced to do it.
All of these discussions aside the biggest argument for me, in the current situation, is that of the importance of moving our schools much more rapidly towards transdisciplinary learning.
This doesn't mean let’s do a bit of science and then a bit of maths and a bit of English all centred around a theme.
It means how can we use our discrete knowledge of one discipline to strengthen and bolster our learning in another. When the government talks about an All of Government approach this is what they are talking about. The solution they have put in place has not been a health one or a science one or an economic one, it hasn't just been a legal solution or about provisioning for those without or looking ahead to employment issues. It’s a solution that encompasses all of these and more. It uses the knowledge from multiples areas to create a solution together. And most importantly overriding the health solution, the economic solution, the safety protection, the provision solution is one of both building humanity and understanding the interdependence of all of these things. The stand out message for me was Stay Home Save Lives Be Kind. We were constantly reminded to be kind, and the message was continual that by everyone doing their bit we would save lives even if your own wasn’t in immediate peril. We had to understand interdependence. And we had to respect humanity.
Transdisciplinary approaches are often decried by subject specialists as losing the integrity of their discipline. Actually a transdisciplinary approach still values the knowledge and deep understanding of each discipline, but the outcome of transdisciplinary learning is to use that knowledge and understanding to the benefit of another discipline in order to create a new solution to an issue or project.
It is not until we stop the competitive nature of disciplines in schools- where departments are compared to each other for who got the best passes, or the more students taking them, or the ‘right’ to teach certain standards that we will see progress.
It is not until we fully understand, subscribe to and all work together to create the interdependence of the learning of each discipline in a transdisciplinary model that we will see real life authentic learning happening.
It is not until we take an approach that puts humanity and the development of humanitarianism at the top of our priorities that we will be able to see real change in education, in schools and in the outcomes for all of society.
And to do that will take all of society's approach. While we still place such prominence on league tables and comparisons we push schools into a place where it is hard to have the courage to explore other models of learning. It seems innovation can only succeed as long as you still measure up to all the old measures in place.
Let’s create schools and learning that truly help everyone make the world a better place going forward.