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A Different Type of “10 Year Plan” for Education




Have you ever been with a company (Internet, phone, etc.) for a long time, and then you see an advertisement or commercial (Commercials? Okay, old man Couros!) for that same company with a VERY special offer for new customers only?  

When I see that, I think, “Seriously? I have been with you forever, and my loyalty is ignored while you provide the best opportunities for people that haven’t ever paid you a dollar?!?!?”

It is frustrating because it feels like companies can often forget their current customers in pursuit of new ones.

That is how I feel about many “10 Year Plans” in education. 

They often talk about what school could and should look like in the future for the next crop of students and how it will be such a fantastic experience.

Here is something to consider.

No current student in your school cares about your 10-year education plan. They care about their experience today.

This is not to say that schools shouldn’t currently look to the future, but too often, we ignore the importance of the present, and those that are present, in our schools today.

But I think we need to consider “10 Year Plans” in a different way.

Our focus in education should be on how the things we are doing today, will serve our current students ten years from now. Will today’s practices lead to tomorrow’s learning advantages for our students?

Here is an example of my own practice that makes me think about this long-term vision.

Like other educators in my first year of teaching (grade 4), I struggled in many ways. But the one thing I could do very well was talk. In fact, I could make any piece of content interesting by telling stories and being funny, and I was pretty good at capturing my students’ attention.  

In my second year, I remember talking to my students from the previous year and one of them said, “Mr. Couros! We miss you so much! Our teacher this year is making us do work and figure stuff out on our own, and it is so boring compared to listening to you!”

I must admit, at that moment, I felt a sense of pride that the students enjoyed being in my class.

But the more I think about that conversation, I think about how I created a space where students were dependent on me being interesting and fun for them to have any interest in the content. I felt I did more damage long-term than I understood at the time. Did my helpfulness lead to a helplessness in my students?

I don’t think lectures are bad, and teachers shouldn’t create engaging lessons. I do, however, believe that we need to learn to shift from the notion of engaging our students to empowering them to find their own pathway forward. 

 

Will my practices of today lead to the learning of tomorrow? 

 

That is the 10-Year plan we should be focused on first and foremost in education.

 

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