Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Is school just preparation for life?

I kind of understand what people mean when they say that school is preparation for life, that primary school is preparation for secondary school (and therefore secondary school must be preparation for university and so it's university that is preparation for real life). And I guess that means that kindy is prep for school.

My problem with this chain of thinking is that it belittles the significance of the "now" in each instance. What is happening now is important for each learner and is real life to them.

I tend to agree more with Dewey's quote above. The power of this way of thinking is that rather than viewing our work as preparation for the next stage we must consider what will make learners successful now. By guaranteeing their success now, we are probably guaranteeing their success later too. And by success I don't necessarily mean achieving NCEA or going to university.

When I consider what I would deem as being successful in life, I tend to think that someone is doing something they are passionate about, that they have chosen to do (not forced into or fallen into by default), that they treat themselves and others well, that they can contribute in positive ways to their community, they're happy (content) and they have a positive view of themselves.

We must consider if what we are doing is ensuring that learners of all ages are being successful in their life now, not just later.

My belief is that they Key Competencies of the NZ Curriculum are the essential ingredient in the recipe of ensuring our learners experience success both now and in the future. Are our classrooms based on teaching these competencies and allowing authentic opportunities for learners to practice and demonstrate these?

In order for schools to fulfil the vision of actively involved, confident, connected and life long learners then Key Competencies need to be at the fore of our thinking in curriculum design and school culture. It would be pointless to have learners who can only relate to others sometime in the future and who can manage themselves at some later point in their life. Surely, to be successful at school then learners need to be competent at these skills as soon as possible.
Think about your "ultimate learner" or what your top 3 outcomes are for learners in your class or school and then ensure that your class/kura is enabling learners to become capable in this now, not just in the future.

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Is school just preparation for life?