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In the 21st century, the body of knowledge humankind has at its disposal continues to grow at an exponential rate. As a result, the “half-life” of knowledge shrinks as the overall expansion of knowledge accelerates. The likelihood of knowledge being the “truth” one day and becoming outdated and replaced the next day is more common than ever before. To be sure, change is rapidly becoming the rule rather than the exception.
The increasing number of ways information is being transferred around the world is aiding the acceleration of knowledge creation. As examples of this, just look at how Facebook, Wikipedia, Twitter, Open Source software and Google have changed the rules of information as well as who has the power and control of knowledge. Now consider this rapid knowledge creation and the accelerated rate of sharing it to how and what students need to learn throughout their lives.
We believe that the task of teaching students to simply “know” a limited and changing body of knowledge is rapidly becoming a futile effort. A new focus on what is truly important to learn so students can maximize their opportunity for success throughout their lives is now required. Our perspective in the La Center School District is for our students to be immersed in rich learning environments that tap into, support and foster their abilities to “think”. This is the best way to prepare them for a perpetual cycle of learning and unlearning knowledge over their lifetime.
To that end, the old factory model of “sit-n-git” content delivery instruction developed in the 19th century and perfected in the 20th century will not help learners in the 21st century handle the ever-growing and changing body of knowledge. So our opportunity as educational leaders is to create the types of learning environments that will support students for this rapidly evolving world. To this end, we believe this work must begin with the creation of a learning organization that taps into, supports and fosters our own learning as adults. As a result of this goal, our district’s teaching and learning team focuses on the following objectives:
1) Implement a district-wide learning model that focuses on the conditions for learning to support all learners (children and adults);
2) Support and celebrate learning across the district (students and adults) using this model in order to tap into every learner’s innate need/desire to learn;
3) Harness the internal energy for learning we all have so as to support all learners’ efforts to become self-directed, confident learners for a lifetime; and
4) Focus our district learning efforts as professional educators around our own practice as learning environment leaders.