Remaking Our Schools for the Twenty-First Century
A Systemic Change Model
If you are a teacher, a parent, a grandparent, or just another taxpayer and you think the future of our country rests in large part in the hands of our educational systems, and you expect the schools to play a key role in raising our youth to assume a mature responsibility in the affairs of our democracy, then you need to find out why that is not happening. This website focuses upon Remaking Our Schools for the Twenty-First Century written by Robert L. Arnold, Professor of Education, Emeritus; it provides an in-depth analysis of the problems in our public schools.
Good teachers are sick and tired of being forced to adopt and use irrelevant materials and developmentally inappropriate procedures along with a standardized testing program that makes no sense. They want our youth to get excited about learning; to get high on ideas, rather than on drugs. They need to know how drug abuse, bullying and other serious social problems are related to the disconnected and irrelevant school experiences being imposed on their students in the name of raising standards.
Our public schools need to develop in all students far greater competency in general education ( a common core of understandings about the world in which we live) and the problem-solving skills required for a productive life. Our democracy cannot be sustained much longer if upcoming generations continue to exhibit deficiencies in these areas.
The version of standardization advocated today is not the answer to problems in our public schools. However it is essential for the mass production and sale of a common core set of educational books, tests and worksheets required for corporate conglomerates to make huge profits on the backs of our students.
When our schools are operated under mandated standardization that completely ignores the fact that no two people are identical in this world, not their genetics, not their experiences nor what they have done with their experiences,where will our entrepreneurs, our artists and creative engineers come from?
Remaking Our Schools offers a comprehensive, systemic re-design of public education, based on modern concepts of systems theory, validated theory of individual human development and learning, and a revised framework for turning school subjects into creative processes for constructing and communicating knowledge, facilitated through the creation of teams of learners achieving together their individual and collective goals.
An alternative system of assessment, evaluation, recordkeeping and reporting uses our vast computer capabilities to help each individual learner develop and store a unique cooperatively-maintained record of experiences found to yield vastly improved basic skills and problem solving capabilities. This system yields much more valuable information about learning outcomes than any battery of tests can possibly reveal.
Remaking Our Schools for the Twenty-First Century details the dimensions of a clear alternative to the present system of education; this alternative is based on modern systems design that has an established reputation in the engineering fields of this electronic/spatial age.
We must be willing to entertain changes that are needed now to make a difference in the lives of our youth and our society in this new age. We need to examine in-depth the systemic problems in education, and entertain common sense solutions that are based on the work of scholars worldwide?
Here is our chance to develop a sound theory-based defense of what all teachers know – each student is a unique individual.
Learning to Learn Professional Development
Our public schools and our teachers are under siege. Even our democracy and way of life is being challenged by the movement to standardize the curriculum and mandate the assessment tools now used in our schools. This top down attempt to dictate what every school, every teacher and every learner is to do to achieve so-called higher standards is tantamount to destroying the public school.
We face a descending trend toward more money-driven procedures that diminish the personal freedoms for teachers to practice their professional skills. Systemic changes are needed, but not change just for change sake, or changes that are designed to destroy our public schools, but changes that reflect the nature of human nature in its most human dimensions. Competent Teachers know what this involves.
The Learning to Learn Professional Development is designed to help with new ideas and new vocabulary to push back on the current forces for top-down change in the public schools of our country.
What is different about this effort? This is a grassroots, low budget, no-glitz view of the processes and products of education from a systems point of view – a comprehensive rather than a piecemeal attempt to bring about a better, more cost effective school. It recognizes the potential for learning during every hour of the day, three hundred sixty-five days of the year, throughout each person’s unique lifetime.
Learning in this age of electronic communication is not reserved for just the time between nine and three; it knows no summer vacation. Personal experiences that lead to learning are found throughout life as it occurs in all its manifestations, day after day, night after night. Education with a futuristic orientation will acknowledge these truths and capitalize upon the emerging communications technology to affect and sustain improvements in the lives of teachers and learners, on our terms, not those thrust upon us from the top down.
Students who learn how to learn will become lifelong learners, pursuing personally meaningful searches for making sense out of their lives. From an orientation with systems concepts, learners will be constantly looking to develop what A.N. Whitehead called “an eye for the whole chessboard, for the bearing of one set of ideas on another.” This will aid the complex processes of problem solving and recall. It will develop a sense of humility as one discovers a place among the many dimensions of this universe and beyond. It will develop sincere compassion for the needs and aspirations of all peoples, regardless of age, race, ethnicity or economic standing. It will fulfill the promise of humankind to be human. Democratic processes will become more than a slogan to be pronounced but will become procedures to be engaged.
According to Hord, S. et. al. in Taking Charge of Change. ASCD, 1987, “Change is a process, not an event…change is primarily about individuals and their beliefs and actions, rather than merely about programs, materials, technology or equipment (although all of these elements are important).” Change must begin at the earliest levels of education and gradually spread to all other levels including higher education and on the job.
Teachers with a renewed sense of importance, supported by some new ideas and new vocabulary, will reshape the troublesome reforms in public education that are sweeping this country. Let’s put our creative spirit to work with a plan to remake our schools for the 21st century. Together we can do it.
Elaboration of these and other ideas can be found in: Remaking our Schools for the Twenty-First Century A Blueprint for Change/Improvement in our Educational Systems by Robert L. Arnold, Professor Emeritus of Education
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