I am close to finishing Felipe Fernandez-Armesto’s book, 1992, The year our world began, and it strikes me that the essence of this historian’s message is that it is all about paradigm change.
The voyage and discovery of Columbus to ‘The Americas’ was not so much about finding land out there as it was about getting one step closer to making ‘out there’ a lot closer, even if ‘out there’ was not the China they were looking for but somewhere very big which happened to be in the way.
Of course I have read about Columbus before, and the issues have always seemed to be about whether he discovered the Americas first, which of course he didn’t, lots of peoples had been there before. But in finding the easterly winds which took him there he triggered a paradigm change in the minds of many other sailors and financiers, you could get there and back, it was accessible.
Yesterday I was discussing the abysmal approach of every Government to education with a friend. I was suggesting what is wrong now and has been wrong for a long time is they all have the same false paradigm, that learning is difficult, that you are only good at some things and you will almost never be good at others, that people need teaching to overcome all the hurdles, and so on.
What most good teachers get across is that learning is easy, you can learn just about anything you like, and it can be great fun. Occasionally there can be a challenge, like finding the easterly winds, but the routes to success are always there, you don’t need to battle away against opposing forces, you just need to find the route away and back home.
Before Columbus the sailors had tried to go West but stayed within the band of westerly winds so they could always get home. A paradigm that made everything difficult.
Governments need to get their hands off the education system and leave it to succeed, it doesn’t need measuring, the results will show for themselves. Some innovations could be tried, for example, head teachers like US presidents could be appointed for 4 years and then only once ever for a second 4 years, then they have to move on or back to the classroom.
Learners could pick a maximum of 5 subjects a year and engage in designing what they want to learn about those subjects, reading, writing, mathematics, science and art would always be an essential part of all subjects not subjects in their own right, unless they were chosen as one of the 5 for that year.
Instead we have continual new initiatives from Parliament HQ which show little or no understanding of learning, and not much understanding of teaching either.
As to children and young people, it would seem as if those running Parliament HQ had never been young, or a learner, maybe they only ever experienced teaching as telling and never teaching as joy and wonder and exploration?