Insight from Michael
I have been working on educational change for almost 50 years. There is something different about 2014. There is a grand convergence spontaneously erupting. I think it is a natural dynamic of push and pull. The push, to put it directly, is a combination of the boredom and alienation of students and teachers. Students won’t wait, and teachers can’t wait. It is simply intolerable for students and teachers to be at school every day when increasing numbers of them would rather be somewhere else. What kind of existence is that!
On the other hand the digital world is a 24/7 phenomenon of limitless intrigue and consternation. There is something out there but it cannot be fathomed. Humans have stopped evolving physically, but the brain is changing in uncontainable ways. Humankind’s relationship to the universe is becoming seamless. There is no distinction between us and mother nature; between us and what we are creating– digitally, artistically, and spontaneously. We are what we create, and what incubates ineluctably becomes us.
We are seeing combustions that are as inevitable as they are mysterious. They are unstoppable. This is what I have called Stratosphere. Technology, pedagogy and change dynamics are converging on their own. We cannot stop them but we can take advantage of them to enable and accelerate learning, where learning and living become indistinguishable. This is not a theoretical realm. It is reality.
These developments are grounded. Let me count the ways. Maria Langworthy and I wrote a report called A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning (commissioned by Pearson). It takes multiple examples of how new deep learning is erupting in schools around the globe. In these situations the learning day is no longer punctuated by the 9 to 3 clock; it is 24/7 seamless. We see it in the videos we are beginning to compile from schools and school systems. We see it in our new pedagogies project where we are working with 10 clusters of 100 schools from 10 different countries—1,000 schools easily jumping on a journey of unknown but exciting destinations (npdl.global). We see in in new conceptions of The Principal where school leaders are shaping the education of teachers and students in collaborative learning cultures; where they are becoming ‘system players’, and multiplicative change agents. We see it in what Andy Hargreaves and I have called the Professional Capital. We see it in big systems that are struggling to latch onto new powerful ‘drivers’ for whole system change—look to California with its 7 million students to find the way; to New York City as it sheds the shackles of one-way accountability from the top, to Poland as it tastes the freedom of purposeful directional vision with unknown but exciting pathways, and to Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East as these giant systems awaken to learning that will become increasingly accessible to all.