Sabbatical – Part 4

Lifelong Kindergarten

This is a good read for any educator. The author has been integral in the development of LEGO Mindstorms robotics as well as leading the team developing the Scratch programming software. The examples he uses to reinforce his message draw from the use of these two products plus a whole lot more real life contexts.

If you have anyone in your school such as a staff member or parent who doesn’t understand why coding or robotics supports developing learning and any number of thinking dispositions, then give them a copy of this book!

For the purposes of this inquiry I will really just focus on the section of the book that deals with assessment, the Tensions and Trade-offs.

It discusses the skills that employers are increasingly looking for. This also featured in the another text, Innovate Inside the Box by Couros & Novak (2019) who discuss the 2022 Skills Outlook. The following graphic reinforces the point that all authors are making – we need our learners/young people to be able to adapt, problem solve, adopt new strategies when faced with unexpected situations i.e. life.

World Economic Forum, 2022 Skills Outlook

The problem is though that we in education still seek to measure progress at school in traditonal areas (reading, writing, maths) and by using quantitative data evidence to know if we are doing a good job.

But are we measuring the things that will make the biggest difference in people’s lives? Here is a great saying from the book;

We treasure what we measure.

What are we currently treasuring?

This question is pretty central to the core purpose of this inquiry and one that Resnick discusses further. It is easier if I just show you:

Resnick, 2017, p. 152

For me this again reinforces learnings to date where as a school, as a profession, we seem not to be focusing on what’s important. Are we actively prioritising, or at least treating equally, these areas, these dispositions for want of a better word? Or systems… our tools… our perceptions of good schools, are all based around a measure of traditional academic success. We need to at least balance it out, to even the scales between a dispositional approach and an academic approach. Or do we need to completely flip it and start everything we do from a dispositional standpoint?

Final words from Resnick:

If we truly care about preparing today’s children to thrive in tomorrow’s society, we need to rethink our approaches to assessment, making sure to focus on what’s most important for children to learn, not what’s the easiest for us to measure.

(Resnick, 2017, p. 153)

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