I found this question intriguing. Even more intriguing are the variety of answers:
Pedagogy, Teacher Training, Working Conditions, Assessment, Standards, Teacher Evaluation Systems, Policy–Local, State, National, Technology, Teaching/Learning Styles, School Choice/Vouchers, Management/Administration Systems
The list goes on and on….As does the list of questions we are asking in trying to frame education reform:
Why are our NAEP scores so low? Why are our children not meeting College and Career Readiness Standards? Why are we falling behind other countries? What are we preparing our kids for after graduation? Is an education system reflective of market competition the best way to educate our kids? Who is to blame for the problems in the system? Who is in control? Where are we going as a nation?
Our questions and solutions circumvent the most fundamental question we should be asking:
What is learning?
Try to define it yourself, right now. What is it? Is it a brain process? A cultural growth? Is it something we do? Something we are? Something we figure out? Can we show it? Is it inherent? How do we do it? What does it look like, act like, sound like?
Is it something complicated and scientific:
Or is it simple:
What is learning?
Until we know where we are going in terms of learning, until we have a definition that we can all agree to, we will be stuck ruminating on ideas that are getting us nowhere. If our assessments don’t align with our definition, they are faulty. If our practices don’t align with our definition, it is faulty. If our teacher evaluations don’t align with our definition, they are faulty. If teacher training is aimed toward our definition, it is faulty. Everything we do in reform boils down to this one, fundamental question.