Complex, contextual systems like schools have one thing in common; learning. Whilst this may be obvious, the concept of learning conjures different images or remembered experiences depending on the individual. Learning as an active process of acquiring knowledge, skills and experience over a period of time used to be something that once done, would hold you in good stead for decades until new knowledge or skills were needed. However, one only has to look at the rapid changes that are taking place in the world around us to understand that this process is changing, requires continual attention and is now indeed lifelong. Gone are the days of getting your learning in a nice package and then using this for the rest of your lifetime. This need to be in a constant state of learning creates certain tensions between the traditional Just-In-Case model of education as opposed to the immediacy of the Just-In-Time model of education being driven by exponential technological change.
Alvin Toffler, in a deliberate provocation, is often quoted as saying that “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” This one statement accurately captures the tension caused by rapid change taking place in society. Despite these tensions, the reality is that if you are passionate about serious intellectual inquiry, there has never been a better time in which to live. In the next five years, Just-In-Case and Just-In-Time learning will increasingly fuse and transform each other.
In grappling with this changing learning landscape, a diverse group of leaders and staff across our College drew the conclusion that for us to be effective moving forward we must pro-actively and collectively design a more connected learning system driven by a shared language of what we value in learning. With our current Strategic Education Plan drawing to a close, this was a chance to create our own vision for learning that would suit our own context, affirm our unique identity and draw on the wonderful knowledge and expertise that we have in our own community.
Drawing widely on national and international research, with a future focus that embraces aspects of experiential and constructivist learning philosophies and many national and international curricula frameworks, we have designed a comprehensive framework for learning titled our Vision for Learning. This broad framework defines learning not in terms of discreet subjects, specifics or narrow measures, but in terms of seven conceptual dimensions: Identity, Creativity, Thinking, Communicating, Contributing, Creating and Enterprising.
Our Vision for Learning is a living and breathing document that describes the skills, knowledge and expertise students must master to succeed for a future that is rapidly changing. It provides a broad framework for the development of learning experiences that invite students to thrive in the global economies of today and tomorrow.
The democratization of learning and knowledge, where anyone can learn anything at any time, is backed by an increasing collection of research that demonstrates that when students are able to spend more time thinking about ideas than memorizing facts and practicing skills — and when they are invited to help direct their own learning — they are not only more likely to enjoy what they’re doing, but to do it better. Being able to direct your own learning is a form of intellectual empowerment that allows young people today to have flexibility and to maintain a diverse portfolio of skills, knowledge and expertise so that they can respond to, and move with, the transformations of our new global economy.
Facts and skills do matter, but only in a context and for a purpose. The VCAA Chief Examiners every year lament the fact that most students are unable to deal with unseen or unfamiliar situations in VCE examinations. By organizing learning around interdisciplinary problems, projects, passions and driving questions – rather than discreet facts, skills and separate disciplines, student will develop the independence and critical and adaptive thinking skills required to thrive in a time where constant change demands a certain comfort with uncertainty.
By developing this shared vision for the future of learning at our College, it ensures a full alignment in purpose and language and changes the paradigm of curriculum work from a cycle of documentation to a managed process for focused collaborative review and improvement. Most importantly, and supporting our shift towards an empowered and innovative learning culture, it brings teachers and students together around a focal point for collaboration.
This is an exciting development and I warmly invite you all to access our Vision for Learning below.