Changing large systems is difficult. When you grow up and succeed within the traditional system, it’s hard to see what’s wrong and it’s even harder to imagine that we can do it any other way. Traditional schooling models are entrenched in our collective psyches and in our culture and, as a society, we have invested a great deal in keeping them the way they are. Sometimes, it’s easier to rally behind the very loud voices of “educational reform” than to dig deeper, think longer term and contemplate a complete re-envisioning of the system as we know it.
Perhaps we have also failed to recognize that what happens to our children affects us all. Chronic educational under-performance threatens Canada’s social cohesion, economic prosperity, democratic principles and quality of life. The cost of doing nothing grows with each child that leaves the education system without having challenged the limits of his or her own possibility. If we continue in failing to maximize the potential of every child, we can never hope to meet the significant challenges we face entering the 21st century – climate change, global inequities, rising rates of violence, to name a few. We will pay for our inaction with new prisons, higher expenditures for social assistance and the increased costs of maintaining a fragile public safety.
John Abbott on Why Typical Educational Reform Isn’t the Answer
Decades of “educational reform” calling for higher standards and a return to the basics have served only to drag an already out-of-date system even further in the wrong direction. These types of simplistic and short-term bandages directly contradict what we really know about the circumstances and opportunities that children need to learn, flourish and succeed – as individuals and as a society.
We know two things with absolute certainty; 1) that in 20 years, even 10, our world will look very different, and 2) that the decisions and actions we take today will significantly shape our emergent future.
Eric Young, in Getting to Maybe: How the World Is Changed
One ironical consequence of the drive for so-called higher standards is that students are too busy to think.
Programs at Work