What Else Can We Do?
Unless we change direction, we are unlikely to achieve the best possible outcome from education. What we need is an Upside Down Education in which we reorganize priorities in more or less the opposite direction to what they have been in the past, for example:
- Make preschool education the most important, not senior education as it is today.
- Pay preschool teachers the same or more than teachers of other grades. If attitudes towards life and learning are both determined by early childhood, we need to give more importance to the education of the littlest of our lot. The job of a preschool teacher is far more complex when correctly undertaken, so we need to train them better and pay them more.
- Make becoming 'good' more important than becoming 'smart'. Surely, the outer form of a tree is only as strong as its inner roots. The schools that focus on a higher vision often produce better academic results than those that focus primarily on academic accomplishment.
- Instead of competition with others, make the premise of education and educational assessment competition with oneself!
- Instead of teaching to class dynamics, think of how to address the individual needs of each child and engage them differently.
- Instead of ages and one-size-fits-all dynamics, think of how to reorganise teaching so as to address the varied competencies, skills and stages of every child’s development.
- Instead of single-aged classes, think how to get children to work in multiple ages some of the time each week, if not more.
- Help teacher dominated classrooms convert to teacher facilitated, run in partnership with the children.
- From fixed blueprint approaches to flexible timetables that accommodate changing needs, interests and priorities and that tap into a child's teachable moments.
- To build a programme of both support and challenge for the individual child, create intrinsic motivation to succeed, away from external motivators that we so often use.
- Instead of viewing schools as providers of content, to see them as providers of service.
- Instead of teaching by rote, think of creative ways to engage all children in a process of discovery by themselves, learning by doing and through experimentation.
- Instead of keeping parents out of the door, embrace the effective involvement of both parents and the community.
- Instead of educating just the children, educate also the parents and society at large so that consistent messages can be given at home and at school.
- A school must be an ideal form of society, a lighthouse, where standards are both set and met and exemplary behaviour is the norm, as schools are the mirror to the future. Let not the schools become mirrors to the present!