Seeking Balance by Asking Questions #EDAD688

Education seems to be changing at warp speed.

And it seems like everything is on the table when it comes to what needs to change in education: schedules, grades, lesson delivery, professional development – We are taking a “leave no stone unturned” approach to changing schools and looking into replacing it with self-paced online learning instead of classroom learning, passion projects instead of performance tasks, and PLNs instead of professional development.

This is a great development for students. I like how Ayna Kamenetz explained the latest trends in education: It’s never been a better time to be a learner.

However, I find myself asking questions about some of these changes.

  • Is a 1:1 program good for all students? Even Kindergartners?

  • Is “flipped instruction” the right instructional approach for all students?

  • Should all professional development happen through a PLN?

As a parent of a Kindergartner and a 3rd grader, I can tell you that I would not feel comfortable if my daughters learned everything through passion projects. They still need so many foundational skills such as reading, writing and math that will help them get to a point where they can explore an interest and do it successfully.

A hot topic in education in my district is passion projects and how we need to give students the freedom to learn more about their passions. Companies like Google and FedEx do that for their employees through “20% time” programs and it is yielding results.

But don’t forget, Google calls it 20% time because 80% of the time there is still work to be done.

Kids should explore their interests, but they should also need to learn how to be literate problem-solvers who can navigate and understand content.

And let’s be honest: Passion projects are really an instructional approach. The successful teachers I know are the ones who vary their instructional approaches in response to their students rather than use the same approach for everything.

So for now, I’m going to continue to ask questions about some of the changes being proposed. I’m not ready to throw everything out because we are doing great work with kids even if it’s not “flipped” or passion-based. As we strive for change, I believe we also need to strive for a balanced instructional approach.


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