The impact of COVID-19 on education means schools as we know them will never be the same.
All of us––children, educators, parents, and communities globally––have learned a valuable lesson: not everyone’s experience of learning is the same. While schools as we know them may work well for some, they don’t work as well––or at all––for some others.
The truth is we’ve known that’s the case for a while. But with the current health crisis, schools have had to adjust. They haven’t had a choice but to find an alternative, and their efforts have given us a glimpse of the future. Systems that fail to learn and progress––that instead try to re-open just as they were––will find themselves fighting the future of learning.
Because schools of the future are flexible, agile, personal, and attuned to the needs of their students––along with their teachers, their leaders, and communities.
It may be that schools become centers of learning where learners can get what they need when they need it, without coming in when they don’t need to learn, to share learning with others, or to be at a school.
It will be that soon, when we work through this crisis, schools will find ways to continue delivering learning on location, online, and remotely.
And, I hope, it also won’t be long until schools move away from a standardized curriculum that doesn’t meet the needs of all the learners in front of them, and instead help their students answer all of these questions:
Who are you?
What’s important to you?
What are your hopes, goals, and dreams?
What’s your place in the world?
What’s your personal story?
What’s your cultural identity?
What are some things you admire in others?
How are you connected with the people you know?
How are you connected with the natural environment?
How are you connected with the whole of humanity?
What is the purpose of learning in your life?
Are you committed to using your powers (learning) for good?
What would you most like to learn more about?
What do you need to know about the world and its workings to contribute in the ways that you want to contribute?
Are you committed to learning and improving?
Can you collaborate with others to learn and solve problems?
Can you come up with creative ideas and solutions?
Can you communicate to share and to gather ideas?
Can you piece together and evaluate different bits of information?
How can you add to others’ lives and to the world?
These questions are the future of learning in schools, and the pathways to meaning and fulfillment in life.
For more questions and activities for students and teachers, check out The Learner First’s Contribution Kit.