The landscapes of knowledge and learning have shifted hugely in recent years, with the development of technology, digital media, and more importantly, the enlivened human consciousness of our connections with each other, and our relations with the planet. Yet, practices of public education largely remain fixed to a model of a century’s duration, unresponsive to the emerging conditions and perilous in terms of preparation for the future. If regenerative practices in education are imperative, what is the most promising direction for transformation?
The world is ready … the future is at hand … for replacing assembly-line classrooms with the vitalising powers of relating. The directions are clear: from standardisation to dialogue, from control to co-creation, from regimentation to collaboration. Here lie the wellsprings of creativity, caring, and curiosity. As we prepare for a global future in which inclusion, innovation, and improvisation are essential for a world in harmony, come and join in this virtual conference designed for sharing and exploring practices, experiences, and inspirations in all aspects of education – within classrooms, communities, and outward to the globe. Let’s shape the future of education together.
Education as Relating – A Global Online Conference
4-6 November 2021, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm US EST/ New York time
Standardisation is the culprit of our education’s brokenness. This well-known diagnosis of our educational system came from Sir Ken Robinson who passed away in August 2020. He inspired educators from around the globe with his TED Talk that examined why our current approaches to education and schooling inhibit children’s creativity. He suggested that current education, due to its being standardisation-based and exams-focused, tend to breed competitiveness, and champion individual ‘success’. Hence there is no space for exploration nor imagination.
In our book Beyond the Tyranny of Testing, we point out that the culture of testing and grading is tyranny because it enslaves educators and learners in the production of scores. The system deliberately chains all stakeholders to the cycle of dehumanisation to a breaking point where at the present moment, students and educators’ ill-being becomes a hidden pandemic alongside Covid-19.
Agreeing with Sir Ken Robinson, we propose that the only way to ‘cure’ this educational plague is by reconceptualising evaluation from a relational perspective. As we argue, it is within relational process that learning can be meaningful, and each of us become who we are. When we place the relational at the heart of teaching and learning and all other relevant experiences, education can be truly transformative. Where schools encourage the relational flow, there will be endless dialogue, myriad forms of collaboration, appreciative listening, mutual recognition of our humanness, and precious friendship over and above our identity labels, and designated roles.
When the relational orientation underpins education evaluation, it not only serves to enhance the depths of learning engagement, inspire continued interests in learning, and above all, enrich the relational process itself. As many classroom practices illustrate, relational evaluation is a co-inquiry where learners, educators and others in the community value each other’s presence and the meaningfulness of learning activities.
As Sir Ken Robinson envisaged, this is a truly a great way to fix our education’s brokenness.