Posted on April 9, 2017
Another week of learning, but this time focused on the professional learning of international visitors and school leadership in Hawaiʻi's private, charter, and public schools. Mid-Pacific welcomed another international cohort representing the South Australian Association of Independent Schools. Seventeen colleagues walked through classrooms from preschool through high school to observe examples of progressive education. On our side, some of my faculty assisted me by escorting a small group and answering questions as they walked through classrooms. In the lunch that followed with the cohort, President Turnbull and TED (Principals Tom McManus, Edna Hussey, Dee Priester) answered questions about our view of professional learning and program (e.g., project-based and inquiry learning, multiage structure). In particular, I was pleased to have met two school heads, one whose school is Reggio-inspired and the other whose teachers have read the same texts with practices (e.g., thinking routines, the use of documentation) that are embedded in our teaching.
We joined our Australian colleagues, educators from China, India, Thailand, and 300 other Hawaiʻi educators at the first Leading Schools of the Future conference, sponsored by the Hawaiʻi Association of Independent Schools on Friday and Saturday. The conference theme -- "Reconstructing This Place We Call 'School'" -- featured thought-provoking keynoters such as progressive education advocates Dr. Ted Dintersmith (Iʻve written about Ted in previous blogs), Dr. Yong Zhao, and Craig Johnson -- made the case for changing traditional education as it has been implemented since the Industrial Revolution to a 21st century framework. Technological advances are making traditional jobs obsolete, and much of traditional education (focus on content acquisition) has become irrelevant. The conference goal was to raise awareness about the collaborative opportunities for private, charter, and public schools to change education in Hawaiʻi to best serve every child.
Although we date our progressive changes at Mid-Pacific from 2009, I believe Mid-Pacific was well ahead when it began the School of the Arts 25 years ago, offered Hawaiʻi's first International Baccalaureate program 20 years ago, and opened the only Reggio-inspired early learning program to date in Hawaiʻi in 2005. If we look beyond Mid-Pacific, other communities right here in Hawaiʻi and beyond, such as colleagues in Australia or High Tech High (in San Diego specifically), have been re-imagining and re-constructing teaching and learning, guided by research, child development, and technological and economic forecasts. Progressive education is not a fad or a trend but a response to the world we live in and the future to come. Mid-Pacific is alert, taking action, and reaching out to colleagues because quality education is everyoneʻs responsibility.
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey, Ed.D.