Learning is Over?

I was reminded of an ISTE Conference moment yesterday.  I dropped by the PLPNetwork booth to say hi to @snbeach and a gentleman was in front of the booth trying to engage passersby to take a look at what PLPNetwork was offering in terms of job-embedded professional development.  Having had two cohorts pass through the program where I was a fellow last year and being a fellow to a third out of district group, I knew exactly what the program was and the incredible value that it offered to those who were part of it.

Like most booths, the goal is to get folks to at least take a peek and then further engage or allow them to move on.  But, the first rule of sales is that you have to get their attention.  Having a door prize just sweetens the pot and there was a professional learning opportunity that would be drawn and given away at the end of the conference.  I think that the offer here was to become part of the Learning Community for free.

So, I was chatting and as a group of people walked by, the the gentleman tried to engage them with the offer of joining the community and to learn along with Sheryl and Will Richardson.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget the response.  “I just got my PhD and I don’t need to learn any more”.  Both of us were dumbfounded.  Now, I truly hope that it was just a flippant comment but we both stood there looking at each other.  What do you say?

Is this it?  You reach some sort of educational milestone and then you just stop learning?  If that’s the case, then education is done.  Stick a fork in it.  It’s done.

With that position, you’re not even moving or progressing slowly.  You’re mired in whatever research that helped you reach that milestone.  Now, I guess I understand the concept of educational degrees.  It means that you’ve leaped enough hurdles and stepped on enough people to get to whatever you think is the top of the heap.  But, is that the goal?  Do you just turn off the learning switch and go about making changes in young people’s lives based upon the research of the past?

I was so heartened to spend some time reading and thinking about the New Brunswick vision for education this week.  I blogged about it and the video, at least, was seeming to make the rounds of educators on Twitter.  This was noted in the OLDaily yesterday.  Stephen’s comment gave me a chuckle.

But, then, I read this post from Angela Maiers’ blog.  If the content is to be taken at face value, we’re not moving.  We’re blocked.  You’ll notice that I’ve changed to the collective “we”.  With all that happens in education, I do believe that we’re part of the collective and that we’re only as progressive as the weakest of us.

The use of technology and, in particular, the use of communication and constructive technology affords education a really unique opportunity to reach out and engage every student in a manner never heard of before.  Don’t tinker with the notion of differing instruction by offering some students pens and others pencils.  Put the tools and opportunities in the hands of students and enable them in their endeavours.

I know that sometimes, people feel like their voice is off in the wilderness; they’re not being heard; they’re alone with no support.  The message from New Brunswick needs to be heard wide and far by those who have the ability to make systematic change.  The summer edition of District Administration furthers the discussion with an article written by Will Richardson entitled “No More One-Size-Fits-All Learning“.  The New Brunswick video, their three year plan, and this article needs to be on the desk of principals, administrators, and teachers for understanding.

In education, you cannot stick your spear in the ground and mark the spot.  Appropriate funding, support, and a desire to provide the very best opportunity for students has to be the ultimate goal.  Anything short of this is just wrong.  Learning is never over; it doesn’t matter what hoop you’ve jumped through.

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  1. So very true Doug. Great post about ‘lifelong’ learning. I think that some ideas in education are on the right track, but, unfortunately, they are overshadowed by the ‘old school’ ideas and the TEST, TEST, TEST dogma.


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