For me, MLP/ILE/OTJ/BYOD and other acronyms just got personal! My grandson Harry will be starting school in 2019, that's only 4 years away and I'm starting to think about what his school will look like. I imagine it might be something like the new primary school just down the road from Harry’s house which has been built on Modern Learning principles. I've been to visit the school twice and I've loved it both times. In fact I should probably email the principal and say I was considering enrolling my grandson there! So what did I like about the school, what was it that made me think, “I would love Harry to be at this type of school”
Well, it was lots of things really. It was the modern design, happy, engaged students, interesting and useful spaces, the nature and purpose of furniture, it was the great feeling I got from the school environment, the library with doors that opened to the playground, cool places to sit and read, the drama room and multipurpose space for PE/concerts and the school production. Enthusiastic teachers who work and plan collaboratively, students whose learning was self-directed learning... When I talked to children and said “tell me what you doing” they had no hesitation in telling me about their learning, what they were learning, why they were learning it and how they were showing what they had learnt. There was a real buzz in the school, and in some classes that “hum” of engaged students, focused on something interesting to them.
Now to be honest when my own children were at primary school, I didn't really think about modern learning environments or modern learning pedagogy. 25 years ago when Harry's dad started Primary school, school was pretty much the same as when I had been at school. My children walked, and then later scootered to school, they were in the choir, the rugby team, the netball team, the cricket team and the school production. They brought home their classwork in books and I remember the little spelling notebook, which for one of my children became his biggest challenge. We made posters for projects which went off to school rolled up, never to be seen again. And don’t start me on the worksheets!! We had the school journals and other books to read, current events, times tables lists, endless school trips, fundraising, the school fair, family pizza nights...
We had a 10 minute interview with the teacher after the report and if I was lucky enough to be mother help or my children forgot their lunch, I would pop into school. However, we just trusted that what was happening at the school, was what should be happening at the school. The primary school was the local school, it was two blocks away, people in the area felt/said it was a good school with competent teachers and we lived in a leafy middle class suburb. The school had a good ERO report so we felt quite comfortable that our children would be getting a good education.
So what kind of school would I like Harry to go to?
I’ve also been to visit another school that isn't purpose-built with beautiful modern learning environments. It’s a school that although it is going to be rebuilt, has really re-invented itself and tried to implement a climate of change in the teaching and learning. By re-purposing and ‘hacking” the existing school hall they have created new spaces for three classes. In the Senior school, classrooms have been changed around to allow for a different kind of learning in different spaces.
Self -directed learning, collaboration, agency, communication, personalised learning, connectedness are all elements associated with Modern Learning Pedagogy and 21st Century Education. Last year at the Edutech Conference I was fortunate to hear Sir Ken Robinson speak about creativity and Sugata Mitra talk about his experiment with computers in a hole in the wall. This year at the same conference I heard Eric Mazur share his ideas about changing assessment in his University Physics classes and Eric Sheninger talk about how he transformed his school. Larry Rosenstock shared how students at HighTech High created authentic projects which were shared with family and friends, they created an online portfolio documenting their learning and completed internships in areas of interest. Yesterday at ULearn15, I heard Grant Lichtman talk about his "Ed journey" where he visited over 60 schools to look at innovation. There is no doubt that education for Harry will be vastly different to his dad’s.
As for me, I can’t wait to view the live blog of the school trip, read Harry’s latest story online
and see what questions he is asking on the live Twitter feed from his class.
Starting school November 2019 - Bring it on!