Pushing the Boundaries of Educational Change - Mid-Pacific Institute

Middle School Principal's Blog

Pushing the Boundaries of Educational Change

Posted on November 22, 2015

by Dr. Dwayne Priester on November 22, 2015

Why are many schools and classrooms today much like they were two or three decades ago, notwithstanding the addition of electronic whiteboards and desktops that replaced chalkboards and typewriters?

For many schools along their educational journey, the word "change" and phrase "risk-taking" became taboo. This negative connotation may be a direct result of several factors. External pressure to pack more and more content into a 10-month academic year. External tests, which have forced many people into the false belief are measurements of future success. The fundamental belief that if it's been around for years, why tinker with it? Whatever the reason, the factors associated with the lack of change in schools must be seen as a deep seeded problem that can only be solved by a willingness to engage in multi-leveled conversations.

There are schools who have chosen a divergent path. We, Mid-Pacific, being one of those schools, believe that institutions who look and act the same as they did a generation ago, must be willing to accept the fact that they are sending their students into the world that no longer exists. While the world outside of our educational institutions understands, and even, encourages risk-taking and change, shouldn't we do the same?

Over the past two decades, Mid-Pacific has aggressively pushed the boundaries of educational transformation to the other side of the continuum. Refusing to be shackled by outdated practices and thoughts embedded in the educational playbook of a bygone era, we have decided to embrace a new approach a forward facing model. Our instructional design is squarely focused on the needs of our students -- a move towards critical thinking, student-centered inquiry, the power of decision-making, acquisition and application of knowledge, and rich collaborative learning environments.

As the world evolves, our instructional practices have to keep pace. Now that we are more than a decade into the 21st-Century, which ushered in immense change, education must always be in tune with these changes. While it is easy to cling to the practices of the past and all of the comfort that it affords, our students will find themselves more and more ill-equipped to meet future challenges if educators do not adopt a philosophy of risk-taking and embrace change.

So, what are the essential challenges for schools as we continue our journey into the 21st-Century? We must continue to identify the core-level skills appropriate for student preparedness followed by the task of deciding whether those skills are best learned or acquired in traditional models vs. experiential/participatory models (application of knowledge). Understanding that it is not realistic to believe that our schools will completely keep pace with the speed of evolution and technology, it is necessary that we teach our students to be adaptable to change. By identifying and implementing the necessary core skills, we strike a balance; a balance between process, readiness, content, skill, and adaptation in an effort to "keep one jump ahead," rather than to simply "keep up."