For at least two decades, the real reason for radical school transformation has not been “jobs of the future”. It has been the accelerating rate of change in the world around us. For those who ignored or were complacent with that rate of change, perhaps the last 12 weeks have opened their eyes.
Just a few months ago, most educators were comfortable with saying, “Changing school is like turning an aircraft carrier.” Then a wholly predictable pandemic, for which none of us were prepared hit, and we changed “school”, albeit unequally, uncomfortably, and not without a lot of failure, in a couple of weeks.
Now most schools in the world are planning for the fall, with almost no idea of how many students will actually return, what their financial resources will be, and how, exactly, learning will take place.
And then two weeks ago, the responses to pandemic were arguably overwhelmed by a global reawakening to one of the most cruel, lasting, and pervasive failures in the human condition, systemic racism. If we could argue that none of us were prepared to deal with a pandemic, the likes of which we had not seen in 100 years, we certainly can not make the same excuse regarding racism, which stares every one of us in the face every day, if we only choose to look rather than turning away.
Fulfilling the mission of educator REQUIRES that we have the vision to see over the near horizons; the mindset to grasp and respond to big changes in the world around us; the flexibility to adapt in real time ; the skills to change a classroom or an organization; the desire to prepare our students for a less-knowable future.
We are learning that silence in the face of racism is not an excuse, and that school systems can, actually, change on a dime when needed. This constant learning, this dynamism, is the face of education today and in the future. And for those who say, “We can’t change that fast or that much and still teach the basics”, I say look at how many schools are doing all of that right now and planning to do it again, and better, in the fall.
Yes, we can, because we really don’t have another choice.