In reflecting on my observations and interactions in my PLN over the last (almost) year, one common vein seems most apparent. There are two divergent belief systems.
1: “If you build it, they will come” – In this mentality, educators believe that we don’t need to have an authority or control model or grades any longer because the future will be more egalitarian and about individuals working at their own pace in their own fields of interest.
To some extent, I really like the idea of letting go of some of these traits of the old model in favor of encouraging students to pursue passions at their own rates. Fundamentally, however, I fear that subscribing wholly to such an idealogy will leave students unprepared for their real futures.
2: Human nature is a relatively fixed reality, hierarchies and competition are inevitable. – This more conservative and traditional belief may not be set in some kind of conspiracy to damage the proletariat, but instead to keep our world functioning and facilitate progress.
In fact, even in a *more* egalitarian and individual led future world, I can hardly think that anyone would believe that competition and hierarchies of authority and control will dissipate.
I have been plagued with the debate between “learning and compliance” as @irasocol so perfectly sums it up. I have felt ripped apart between these but I suppose at the end of the day, I have to prepare my students for BOTH. And yeah, that’s tough. I can only assume that in the future, as throughout all of history, most of my students will have bosses, colleagues to compete with, and deadlines to endure.
I must seek ways to let students find their own path in their learning while setting deadlines. I must create an environment where students can both feel comfortable talking to me and not be afraid, but yet must understand that what I say ultimately has to happen or we have consequences.
This has been the most difficult balance for me to negotiate and I’m still not feeling very solid about it. Do you ever worry that you are really preparing students for an idealistic and, likely, utopian future?