If we apply the wrong model of learning for the best of reasons, we will never get the results we seek
If young people are to be equipped effectively to meet the challenges of the 21st century it is surely prudent to seek out the very best understandings from current scientific research into the nature of how humans learn before considering further reform of the current system.
This article by John Abbott and Terence Ryan appeared in the Spring, 1999 issue of Education Canada.
For more than a decade politicians, business leaders and educational leaders have assumed that their education systems needed reform, not re-design. On both sides of the Atlantic reformers have insisted that young people can be successfully prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the Knowledge Age by getting systems of education designed for the Industrial Age to work more efficiently and towards a higher standard. In taking this stance, much of the emerging body of research into the nature of human learning that challenges the underlying principles of the systems that reformers have taken for granted has failed to be fully appreciated.
The Synthesis is based on the materials presented at the six international conferences the Initiative sponsored from 1995 to 1997. The Synthesis provides an overview of the values and main ideas that have been behind all the Initiative’s work.
Being an English academic working with researchers outside the United Kingdom offers me the opportunity to relate British events to what is happening in other countries. Distance certainly lends a sense of perspective, if not always enchantment!
This article was prepared by John Abbott for The Independent newspaper in Great Britain. The article appeared in Information Technology and the Comprehensive Ideal published in London in 1997.
Most school reform in Britain, as in America, has had limited impact because it simply assumed that learning and schooling were synonymous; schools have falsely been seen as being independent of the larger socio-economic structures of which they are an intrinsic part.
What does it mean to be broadly intelligent? Our schools and communities need to develop this capacity in our young people as they face the complex challenges of life today. Research on the brain and its infinite complexity can help.
First published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria Virginia in the March 1997 edition of Educational Leadership, and reprinted with approval.
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