About seven years ago, I was at a table with educators from many different places, with different experiences. As I was talking about my passion for creating schools to be more focused on meaningful learning for our students, one gentleman, probably in his late 60’s started shaking his head. I asked him directly what he was thinking, and he said, “We have been talking about this forever in education yet we never seem to get to the place we want to be.” It was not the comment I was expecting.
What I took away from this is that there are many educators, from many generations, that wanted to see something much better than what school was providing for students. Much of what John Dewey spoke of (born in 1859), is still what we are trying to move towards, as probably educators spoke of before, and after.
As I thought about what the gentleman said, I thought, “Am I going to be here 30 years from now listening to someone newer in the profession still talk about where we need to go?” No matter how good of a system we can create, we will always be able to get better. That being said, there are things now that we can improve significantly right now. And although we see it in some aspects of schools right now, are we moving from “pockets” to a “culture” of innovative teaching and learning? Are the schools that we have now, the places we would create if we started from scratch?
When I think about the gentleman before, sharing his thoughts, I know that he left education in a better place than when he started. I also know he wasn’t satisfied with what it was currently. I just wonder where I will be near the end of my career. Will I be disappointed with what school looks like, or will I be part of the generation that together, makes this a much better place for our kids than the way we have found it? Only time, and hard work, will tell.