I believe that the purpose of education is to guide a child to become a contributing member of society. The nature of education and the skills needed to accomplish this have changed dramatically. Work, learning, and citizenship in the 21st century demand that we all know how to think – to reason, analyze, weigh evidence, problem-solve, and to communicate effectively. The future of our economy, the strength of our democracy, and the health of the planet depends on this. To this end we need to create schools that are safe, respectful, academically challenging and stimulate curiosity and imagination.
We have learned through research that as a child grows the type of learning changes as the brain matures. The learning environment should change to meet the changing needs of the student to best match their cognitive and social stages. Through the K-12 years students are changing from being parent and family centered to being independent and more socially aware and responsible. While being engaged in highly rigorous academic learning, they also need to develop 21st century collaborative work skills, leadership skills, and develop compassion and engagement with others in the community.
To meet these needs schools must create a culture of high expectations, have rigorous and relevant instruction and build strong relationships. Instruction must include a high degree of inquiry-based learning that helps them know their own strengths and weaknesses and make clear connections between what they are learning in the classroom and how it links them with their own possibilities. We need to engage their voice in developing the program. Their program should develop skills such as learning through multimedia and connection to others, learning as discovery, and learning by creating.
At the heart of learning is relating to others. Forming relationships between teacher and student and between students is critical in the learning process. Students need to learn to be compassionate, collaborative, to engage others, and to understand different perspectives.
As an educator and administrator I feel a great responsibility to create schools that will prepare all students to be successful. It is important to me to be a lifelong learner and I hope to instill a love of learning in all my students.