Education: What’s Up With That?

Ted Spear is one of the best educators I know. He founded Island Pacific School, where I work, and has led me around the boardroom table many times as we’ve hashed out our answers to big questions: What is the purpose of an education, for example. In fact, he built a biweekly professional development half-day  into the school’s schedule so the staff could come together regularly and talk about the nature of their profession.

Ted’s moved on, but I’m thrilled to see him blogging: for all his perspicacity, he also one of the world’s great Luddites–maybe there’s a connection? I’d say this to his face, so I don’t think I’m talking out of school here. In his blog, Four Questions, Ted is laying out his thoughts on what he sees are the four fundamental questions of education:

  1. How do we connect, or better realign, the work we do in schools with a philosophical core that expresses the full scope and potential of the educative project?
  2. How, practically speaking, do we “invite teachers to become educators” in the sense of supporting and inspiring them to thoughtfully pursue the educative project with their students?
  3. How do we structure schools—i.e. in terms of class size, timetables, teacher loads, curriculum delivery, assessment practices, etc.—in a way that will support, rather than detract from, the educative project?
  4. How do we incorporate the potential of Schools 2.0 in a way that will realize and expand—rather than trivialize and degrade—the educative project?

I’m glad to see Ted put these on the table again, so to speak, even if–especially because–my current work around #4 leaves little time chat with Ted and colleagues. I see, too that others are asking these good questions. Barbara McLaughlin posted a few thoughts on a conference she attended last January on the same questions: “What is the purpose of education?”

None of the technology matters until first we answer this question.

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