During colloquium two with Mike Hourahine of Think Global School, the following question was posed, what is the purpose of education? Mike refined the question further and commented that the purpose of required secondary education is essentially to prepare students for university, whether they are suited to it or not. This comment resonated with me because I have been contemplating what school could be like without the constraint of assessment for tertiary admission. Mike believes it is important that students learn how to learn, learn about themselves and be able to collaborate, and Think Global School attempts to do this by building changemakers.
I had not encountered the term changemakers in K-12 education so I went looking for examples other than Think Global School and found the Ashoka Changemaker Schools website. Like Think Global School, they want students to thrive in a modern world and find solutions to complex problems. According to the information on the Ashoka Changemaker Schools website (n.d.), a changemaker is:
an active contributor
wants to make a positive change in their community
actively solves problems
They also identified the skills required to be a changemaker:
I could not find any evidence of schools in Australia promoting themselves as changemaker schools. However, I do think some schools attempt aspects of a changemaker curriculum using project-based learning or through extra-curricular programmes. I have come across students who are aspiring changemakers within our social justice programme, however this is an extra-curricular activity and not part of the curriculum.
Changemaker schools are re-imagining education despite the challenges. This video explains more about the movement and the challenges they have faced.
I am sharing this subject with some familiar people who I have interacted with in online meetings, forums and Twitter, and collaborated with using wikis, shared documents and Google hangouts. I have enjoyed the participatory aspects of my studies immensely and have learned so much from my peers as well as the subject coordinators. Feeling isolated is a common complaint about online learning but I believe my decision to make myself visible, contribute in the forums and reflect openly on my blog and Twitter has mitigated this feeling, and instead I have felt connected to people who I have never even met in real life. Does this make me a modern learner?
The first guest colloquium with Bruce Dixon founder of Anywhere, Anytime Learning Foundation and Modern Learners discussed what it is to be a modern learner today and whether schools are meeting the needs of modern learners. Along with Will Richardson he has produced a white paper 10 principles for schools of modern learning to help school leaders reimagine, redefine and transform student learning in schools. The general consensus amongst participants was that the current Australian school system and some international systems are too dependent on testing and assessment to truly meet the needs of modern learners. Bruce advocates change in the current model of schooling so that schools can develop students who are “deep, powerful, curious, agile learners” (Richardson & Dixon, 2017). In the colloquium he elaborated that modern learners are inquiry-based, social learners (connected) and self-directed. I think that according to the aforementioned quote, I possess the attributes of a modern learner. During the colloquium Bruce suggested that we learn best when learning is relevant to our context and and I have appreciated that I have been given agency to direct some of my own learning experiences during this course.
I am excited that I have been given an optional extra opportunity (along with INF532) to connect with a class at Rutgers University in the USA. Although this commitment places additional demands on my time, I believe this online global interaction will be very worthwhile. It will put network learning into practice for me, expose me to new tools, ideas and people.
Google Hangout for CSU/Rutgers University Online Global Interaction
The depth of discussion that has already taken place in the INF537 forums and during the colloquium has been a bit overwhelming but I am doing my best to keep up and contribute. The subject I did last session was not as interactive and participatory so I am grateful that this cohort of modern learners is so giving and dynamic because discussion really helps my understanding.