What will 2006 bring for the field of education? Will a new trend emerge? Will some new path lead to helpful ways to help youngsters learn and grow? Will the winds of change sweep through state departments of education, state legislatures, and the federal government? Is there anything pending on the parent front, poised to spring forth as the year begins? Will teachers, individually or as a group, shift consciousness -- and allow that shift to reveal itself in their behavior?
No one has a crystal ball. No one knows for sure. There is no certainty when it comes to predicting the future of education? Or is there? Maybe one crystal ball shines more clearly than the rest. Maybe someone does know. Maybe those answers are here. Check it out.
...some parents will begin to see that local control of schools is a myth. They will start to understand that the major testing companies have more control of what happens in their neighborhood school than they have as parents. The parent revolt, which has already begun, will become increasingly apparent as a courageous few make meaningful waves in 2006.
...a growing number of parents will realize that if the test scores are going up in their child's school, real learning is going down. They will see that the push to improve test scores is narrowing the curriculum so severely that little time is left to help children learn responsibility, interpersonal skills, solution-seeking, critical thinking, initiative, creativity, self-expression, integrity, curiosity, judgment, cooperation, ethical reflection, mind skills, conflict-resolution, or imagination.
...more teachers will realize that investing time, energy, and effort in attempting to get information and knowledge into student's heads is causing them to miss valuable learning opportunities that occur naturally. Those teachers will more often flow with the teachable moment, trusting their professional intuition. That stance will allow them to deviate from the prescribed plans written by textbook companies.
...legislators in state houses and national government will continue to visit schools for brief marketing appearances, create photo and video opportunities, utter self-congratulatory sound bites, and then return to their normal routine of writing education laws without the funding necessary to implement them. In 2006, they will continue to champion programs and policies that are not working, in an attempt to promote an educational era that is slowly dying.
... more teachers than ever before will leave the old way of teaching -- the way based on right/wrong, competition, punishment, judgment, and obedience to outside authority. These new "Spirit Whisperers" will join the growing ranks of educators who are currently demonstrating their educational beliefs by using a professional teaching style that revolves around trust, inner knowing, allowing, choice, personal power, love, and unity.
... many schools will emphasize the knowledge that is least important for creating an educated person by adjusting the curriculum in order to improve test scores. That will result in "dumbing down" instruction, and produce students who have a quiz-show view of education in which they confuse intelligence with the accumulation of information.
...more outlandish schemes will be devised by administrators, educators, and school board members in an attempt to improve attendance and raise test scores. Students, who in some cases are already receiving the external rewards of food, money, computers, and cars, will be offered vacation packages, clothes, and free dorm space in an effort to buy compliance. It won't be until 2009 that internal motivation is recognized as the most effective form of motivation.
... more teachers than ever before will recognize the Spirit Whisperer energy that exists within them. Those teachers will know in the core of their beings that real education has nothing to do with covering content. They will know that education is now and always has been a drawing out of what already is within the student, rather than a putting in of what they see as necessary to fill perceived deficiencies. Those teachers will know in their hearts that the main purpose of education is the creation of who and what we choose to be. They will teach accordingly.
...more educators will tell the public, boards of education, legislators, and their administrators that the emperor has no clothes. Spirit Whisperers will become Spirit Shouters and speak up when they see the educational life being pulled out of schools by those who believe that completing work quickly is more important than doing it in depth, that the product is more important than the process, and that knowing facts and learning isolated skills is more important than applying what is learned to real life situations. That will result in more quality teachers and administrators staying in the profession. The drill sergeant, memorization, no active learning mentality that is encouraged in test-prep centered schools, that drives good educators out of the profession because of its emphasis on the least significant kind of learning, will loosen it's grip even more in 2006. As more and more educators speak up about their concerns with current educational practice, more will be encouraged to do so.
...a new curriculum will begin to get attention. That curriculum will stress personal power and personal responsibility, while helping students learn the relationship between cause and effect. It will help youngsters become emotionally intelligent and articulate and recognize that being is as important as doing, and it will help them learn a foreign language -- the language of self-responsibility.
...professional development will continue to be under funded; not enough school budgets will include an adequate line-item amount for in-service education. 2006 will see some professional teacher unions negotiate a staff development budget into their contracts because their members realize that as motivators, they need to be motivated, and as educators, they need to be continually educated. Once again, educators will lead the way.
Will those predictions prove to be true in 2006? Time will tell. The real question, though, is what you will do to affect the shape of education in 2006. The choices you make today about your professional practice are critical. They will influence the shape of education for years to come. Remember, the decisions about how you teach that you make in this moment will influence the direction of education in 2006 and beyond.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Education World.