There is Something Different About 2014

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.

8 thoughts on “There is Something Different About 2014


  1. Michael, I couldn’t agree more, and I look forward to reading the report. In my new book OPEN: How We’ll Work, Live and Learn In The Future I describe the forces powering social learning, contrasted with the didactic, content-driven approaches which are proving so frustrating to teachers and learners alike. But there’s a change coming, led, as you say, from the ground-up. Some jurisdictions (like the UK) find themselves ideologically at odds with the new desire for self-determinism, and the tensions are reaching breaking point, as we saw this very week-end (See OFSTED brouhaha)

    Buckle up, it’s going to be a thrill ride!


  2. Your book sounds great. It will be a great ride. And a rough one in some places where conditions–political or otherwise–are characterized by deep conflicts and struggles. But the forces favour the direction that we are identifying. Digital drive meets pedagogical power.


  3. Where Is The Parent Role?

    I notice there is a role mapped out for Students, Teachers, School Leaders and Policy Makers (p77-78).

    Where is the parent role discussed?


    1. Bill NewtonFebruary 15, 2009Michael I was listening to your cmonemts on the vastness of communities on line. You sparked a thought about an issue that needs massive attention. There are gaps in laws that people get caught up in. Citizens dont have money or time to fight for fairness but get caught by gaps in regulations. What if We created a format to expose the atrocities, thus creating an inexpensive way to make our lawmakers aware? The citizens generally find out too late. The legal process is soooo slow, and justice postponed or never achieved.I would like to visit a bit about some possibities.You may reach me at , or call 316-393-7001.Thank you,Bill Newton


  4. great point . we have a few places were we talk about relating to parents, but you have raised the point of what roles/supports and other things could be done to have parents as partners. I agree and we will work on it. Do you have ideas, resources for this aspect? Thanks


  5. I’m agree. The question is how to generate this collaboration revolution by the new technologies in countries in which technology is poor, the bandwidth is null, and the scaffolding to help teachers are very week?


  6. It is not what you do that is important it is what you do not do!


  7. I’m visiting your blog for the first time and want to thank you for your post. You are right, and it is aznaimg that this “fundamental truth in memory theory” is “totally ignored by most educators and trainers.” It’s so ironic that educators fail to learn and apply the “forgetting curve” principle, which is as proven empirically as it is entirely intuitive. The basic learning techniques you outline are simple and effective and apparently, extremely difficult for people to accept. Little by little, I suppose. In the meantime, my students will benefit from your advice. Thank you.

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