In this fast paced world of technology, The Big Idea for all teachers can no longer be to teach information i.e.”If you can google it, don’t teach it”…but rather to focus on key concepts such as school wide dispositions i.e balanced, self-directed individuals and transdisciplinary skills i.e communication, collaboration, thinking, research/ questioning, in order for students to successfully navigate their way through education in the 21st century…and have FUN doing it.
From this perspective, The Big Idea forces every educator at all grade levels to re-think their own beliefs and practices….to reflect on the ‘baggage” they carry regarding their own educational experiences….to be open to change….to invite professional dialogue on the qualities required today to be a good teacher…..to be a part of a community where positive educational change is encouraged and embraced.
Wearing my black hat, I can tell you right now there are many teachers who may never take any of the steps above. Being a classroom teacher, I know how easy it is to say “I don’t have time for that”…..but the reality is….there is nothing more important than re-designing the way we teach and assess our students….this is the Big Idea…and it is so big it calls for action NOW!
The notion of “All you need to know is learned in Kindergarten” resonates loud and clear for me right now…as an Early Years Teacher I wonder if this time of technology will “push up” an approach that teachers of all age levels should never lose sight of… to learn through play/ inquiry. The Early Years philosophy focuses less on the acquisition of specific information and more on the life skills required to reach our full learning potential. Somewhere along the way in the last generation of education, it became somewhat tolerated in Preschool (3-5 years) to learn through play… to make meaningful connections, to promote collaboration and creativity, to give students the right to have some control over their learning, to develop a genuine love of and for learning…only to make way for the ‘real learning???’ years, through a more traditional approach to education from Grade 1 up.
Dare I use the word>>> PLAY>>> , the phrase >>>LEARNING THROUGH PLAY>>>across all grade levels, as The Big Idea…a way of re-defining and re-designing a philosophical approach to teaching and learning…a way of thinking about how classrooms should look and how they should function…
Imagine a Learning Through Play ‘toolbox’ of approaches/ strategies/ environments/ resources etc. available at every administration counter for teachers who commence working at ISM. These toolboxes will have content that varies between ES, MS and HS, but they will ALL have the same philosophical framework that clearly outlines how students learn best and what teachers must do to stay true to the Big Ideas at the core of a play based philosophy…and this does not change from Preschool through to Grade 12….Imagine….
Now there’s a Big Idea that many of us have known for a long time but have not ever seen come to life, because even when you are part of a progressive school, cultures/attitudes/beliefs and practices take time to change…and change must come from admin and teachers collaboratively…and change requires teachers who are able to articulate what they imagine, practice what they preach, re-design a written currciulum for the grade level, take a pro-active appoach to change, educate colleagues, parents and the wider community and manage a full-time class load all at the same time….(sorry the black hat came back :))
Wearing a more energetic, optimistic and super colourful hat…The Big Idea of defining what “learning through play” looks like throughout a student’s life will result in an end to what Clay Burrell accurately describes as ‘schooliness’ . Imagine a new beginning where all students may experience “a love of learning” through play…. Now that is the most awesome Big Idea of them all!…and while I’m getting excited….the fast paced age of Information Technology genuinly supports a move toward a progressive, play/ inquiry based, life skills approach to education. Giddeyup!