I love the game of football. I’m also a huge theater buff. What do these things have in common? Throughout my lifetime, and I’m sure before, both this sport and art form have changed. They have changed in their presentation to the public. The rules of the game and the rules of theater have shifted. Theater and football today are clearly different than they were 30 years ago. Suffering penalties under the new roughing the passer rules in the NFL or attending a performance of “Hamilton” highlight some of these differences. Things change.
The same is true in schools. The best schools today are not exactly like the schools of our childhood. The educational practices, curricula and even the buildings do not look like they did 20, 30 or 40 years ago. They have been adapted and changed to reflect what we now know through research, science and practice. We now know much more about how learning occurs. There are fMRIs and studies in neuroscience that allow us to actually see how the brain responds to varying stimuli and ultimately how different areas of the brain “light up” during certain tasks. There are years of data that guide educators as they make instructional decisions for students. To put it simply, we know more now than we knew then, whenever “then” was – 30 years ago or last year.
Learning brings the evolution of thought and change. What educators embraced even 10 years ago in teaching may now be dormant as other practices have taken their place. The best thing that can happen in education is to make thoughtful shifts in practice that make learning more accessible for all learners. Everything we do must be with the students, how to best serve them each and every day, in mind.