I just read Will Richardson’s thought-provoking post Who’s Asking. In particular, this paragraph stands out / echoes my thoughts:
So here’s the deal with the change that many of us in this conversation are clamoring for in schools: we’re about the only ones talking it. The townsfolk down at the corner store aren’t demanding “21st Century Skills,” technology in every student’s hand, an inquiry based curriculum and globally networked classrooms. By and large the parents and grandparents in our communities aren’t asking for it. The national conversation isn’t about rethinking what happens in classrooms. No one’s creating assessments around any of this. And in fact, outside of the small percentage of people who are participating in these networks and communities online, the vast majority of this country and the world doesn’t even know that a revolution is brewing.
Ahhh…that articulation itself prompts me to ask, in more the Indian context, “look who is talking”! The problem is there aren’t many people talking about, far less “clamouring”, for the kind of changes we have been discussing and the kinds of heated debates over new forms of learning and what they potentially impact.
The way the mindset is, it is about “more of the same, at perhaps better quality, will work better”, not “others have tried the more, it doesn’t work” mindset. Indian education industry, for examples, is now abundant with technological solutions for lower risk areas such as etutoring, exam management, assessments, English Language training and the like, focusing on e-enabling these sectors. It is salivating on rural access, vocational education, student loans, advertising, foreign universities and future policy based accreditation possibilities. The government is applying the traditional system using the same curricular frameworks, bureaucratic processes, pedagogy, teacher training etc. believing it will scale seamlessly. The teachers and educators, if we are lucky, have even barely heard of the terms being discussed in the conversations Will mentions.
What’s worse, these approaches are being touted as those which can solve our problems nationally irrespective of reach and diversity.
Look, it seems there is really no one talking. I may perhaps be wrong, and I would loved to be proved wrong on this one, but this is important enough to state, if only to provoke a response. We perhaps have the biggest challenge of all and my deepest worry is that because of this unprecedented scale, like in the past, this apparent apathy will result in an inequity so large that it will derail our development and risk our futures.