Single Best Idea for Reforming K-12 Education

A recent Forbes article of the same title by Steven Denning resonated with me. It emphasized the role of leadership (at all levels), particularly in moving the focus of our actions as leaders away from “the system” and back to the learners. In addition, the current focus on the system does not take into account our changing global context.

“The inapplicablity of these methods is aggravated by the changes in the economy. Not so long ago, we could predict what jobs and careers might be available for children in their adult life. The education system could tell little Freddie or Janet what to study and if he or she mastered that, he or she was set for life. Not any more. We simply don’t know what jobs will be there in twenty years time. Today, apart from a few core skills like reading, writing, math, thinking, imagining and creating, we cannot know what knowledge or skills will be needed when Freddie or Janet grows up.”

Our greatest challenge as school leaders is to mold a system that focuses on the learner, while carefully navigating the minefield that is “the system.” Denning’s article prompted me to revisit my own vision for learning. Do our school leaders have an articulated philosophy….a vision of what they believe in and where they want to lead? How much does that vision reflect a traditional top-down management style mentioned by Denning? But more importantly, how do leaders’ actions reinforce a demoralizing factory model of management or leadership for learning? These are worthy questions for all of our school leaders to ponder.

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