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How to Be Ready for Change in Education

I have “pandemic doomsday fatigue.” In case you’re wondering, I made that phrase up. But I think you might know what I mean. Too many articles, blogs, podcasts, posts, videos and pundits that are bemoaning the struggles of 2020. Yes, it’s been an incredibly tough year, but now, in my humble opinion, it’s time to look ahead.

In my world, I spend a lot of time with the Education System. I wouldn’t call her my friend, more like an estranged family member who is deeply troubled, makes poor decisions and is in need of interventions from many of my other family members. She and I don’t see eye-to-eye most days. Education System was doing an okay job ‘keeping it together’ before COVID hit. Now, she’s a mess. She’s depressed, tired, frustrated and overwhelmed. No matter how hard she tries, she can’t see a clear way forward or find the motivation to do something different. I keep telling her to lift her eyes, dust herself off, start a new day. In response I can hear her quietly moan, “I’ll just wait until it’s all over.”

(To be clear: I’m speaking of the education system as a whole, not the hardworking educators within the system. Many teachers are heroes in my book, advocates who try to make change but are continually blocked by the system’s self-perpetuating beliefs and rules.)

You might know what it’s like to have a family member or friend who just can’t seem to “snap out of it,” no matter what you say. They keep their eyes fixed on the pains of their past and the problems in their present, and this keeps them trapped.

I believe it’s time for all of us to change our gaze. Instead of focusing on the chaos, loss, and discouragement of the past year, let’s choose to look ahead to the changes that may be fashioned out of this last year’s rubble.

I believe major changes are coming for education. That means major changes for your children, your neighbors and an entire generation. I hear many voices talking about the details of how to reform the Education System. But I promise you, the change must be bigger than simply enrolling in a self-help program and hoping things “get back to normal.”

I don’t know what all of the changes will be, but I have some ideas and a ton of hope. If you are a parent, please get ready. I believe you will be required to be more involved in your children’s learning in the future as their advocate and certainly as their decision maker. Parents, and loving adults, you are the needed catalysts for the change that’s coming on the horizon. If you want to be the change, you need to change yourself and the world around you first. I suggest starting here:

1. Spend more time with your child. A lot of time. Build a foundation of trust and respect and deep connection with them so they know that you love them and you like them.

2. Explore the difference between “education” and “learning.” What does it mean to really learn? What does it look like, feel like and sound like when your child is truly learning, not just going through the motions? Does education always translate to learning? Start up a conversation about the true meaning of learning and keep talking about it.

3. Join our parent learning community called “Unleashing the Curious Learner” starting on January 26th, where some bright educators and I will help you do the first two and so much more. Learn more and register here.

The future of an entire generation of young people depends on where we choose to fix our gaze.

by Tricia Halsey, Executive Director