I’ve been a fan of Will Richardson for a while now. He’s one of those guys you’d love to have a beer with, prime him with a few insightful questions and then just sit back and listen. A true visionary for fundamentally changing education, he co-founded Powerful Learning Practice which offers teachers and school leaders real methods and strategies to help drag education into the 21st century, albeit kicking and whining. In this recent presentation, Will talks about the importance of helping kids find their passions and fostering deep learning, but describes how the current education system does everything to prevent this. The focus on test prep by its very nature means that whenever politicians or the educational bureaucracy talk about making schools “better”, they essentially mean making them do better at preparing students for tests, not better at helping them become engaged global citizens with the skills needed to adapt to careers that don’t even exist yet. He crystalized the current state of education when he asks “Do we want our kids to be prepared for their future by a system that hasn’t fundamentally changed in 125 years”?
I’m completely on the same page with Will and think he’s doing an incredible job of evangelizing for disruptive education reform. Although the cynic in me worries that the powers-that-be are so entrenched and protective over their fiefdoms that, especially in this political climate of blame the teachers and “back to basics”, truly meaningful reform is a sysiphian task that will either lead to binge drinking or a stint in Belview (or whatever psychiatric facility is currently in vogue). But, each day is another opportunity to convince just one more person how dire the situation is and hopefully enlist their help behind the rock.