The above quote from AJ Juliani, (from the amazing book “Empower“, written by AJ and John Spencer) stuck out and resonated deeply with me because of my focus on innovation in education. In their book, they are not looking at creating a system that does this only for students, but the educators as well.
We can talk about environments that empower students all we want, but if the educators in the building do not feel empowered themselves, we have a problem. When we switch from the word “students” to “learners”, this puts the onus on education to do this for everyone, not just our students. It is extremely hard to teach someone flexibility if we work under leadership that is focused on rigidity.
“Empowering” learners is not just a nice thing to do, but a crucial one. In a world where the pace of change is happening at a speed that is quicker than ever, Juliani and Spencer argue that “ownership” is crucial to learning in education. They aren’t wrong either. If students learn to depend on their teachers to “engage” them in learning, how will they adapt when an educator is not present?
Thomas Friedman emphasizes the importance of ownership after formal education in his book, “Thank You For Being Late“;
Another big challenge is the way we educate our population. We go to school for twelve or more years during our childhoods and early adulthoods, and then we’re done. But when the pace of change gets this fast, the only way to retain a lifelong working capacity is to engage in lifelong learning
Think of it this way; a teacher will not always be present, but a learner will. If we create a system, as Spencer and Juliani contend, that empowers learners, they will be prepared for anything that comes their way.
Not just the students, but the educators as well. We all need to see ourselves and others in education as learners first. Empowered educators that can adapt to whatever comes their way quickly are more likely to develop students to do the same.
You can fight change, adapt to change, embrace change, create change, and/or lead change. No matter your choice, it’s not going away.
What are you preparing your learners for?