Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Thoughts on 2020, education, and evolution as we head into the holiday break

Every morning while I'm shaving, I listen to a motivational playlist I made on Spotify. This morning, Tom Sawyer by Rush came on. Funny how music can do this, but it kind of snapped me out of a rut I had gotten into in my mind over the past few weeks. 

This year has been a survival-mode year for many of us, me included. But I tend to forget that things will change for the better--we will adapt. New and better systems will evolve.

It is events like this that drive evolution. The theory of punctuated equilibrium says that biological evolution happens in fits and starts, driven by major events. Our culture and our systems are evolving. And our educational systems will evolve. 

And while the cognitive load has us all down for the count right now, our eyes need to be on that prize of new and better ways of doing things--ways that will be more resilient to future disruptions like these. 

A few come to mind for education: more authentic assessments that can't be cheated on, rigor that goes beyond memorization and simple application of concepts that can be googled, a focus on social, emotional and other so-called non-cognitive skills, a renewed focus on technical and vocational skills, and a focus on those ideas that really light kids fires--ideas that can compete with (or join forces with?) video games.

I think the same idea holds true outside of education. The past year has shown us all some major weaknesses in how we do things. Will we evolve? I think the answer is a definite yes. The only question is in what direction.

Change, after all, is the only constant in this world.

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