From the year 1999 to the year 2002, the amount of new recorded information was equal to all recorded information in the five thousand years leading up to the year 1999. Recorded information now doubles every year, according to Doris Korda, founder and CEO of Wildfire Education. Think about the impact this reality has on our world. Think about the impact this has on the field of education. This raises challenging questions about what is most important today when it comes to the education of our children.
During my many coffee meetings with Oak Meadow parents over the last few months, I was not surprised that parents are quite aware of the changes happening in our world. Parents told me they hoped their children would develop inquiring minds, be resilient and adaptable, build on their own strengths, and continually experience the excitement of new discoveries.
This kind of thinking is completely in sync with the findings of the World Economic Forum, which has developed a strategic list of the most important skills for students to develop in the next ten to fifteen years. One of the skills mentioned is “cognitive flexibility,” which is the ability to be agile and adaptable, think in new ways, expand one’s interests, learn new skills and mindsets on demand and set aside those no longer needed. In a recent meeting with Oak Meadow parents, they identified cognitive flexibility as the single most important skill for their child growing up in the world today.
When you consider this in respect to education today, there is already a significant advantage in Montessori schools. Montessori teachers are uniquely trained to focus on seeing each child as unique, and creating an educational experience that allows every student in the class to develop along the best path of growth. Teachers at Oak Meadow have always seen education as a way of empowering students to become independent thinkers and learners. It’s not surprising that the qualities of adaptability and learning engagement already stand out in Oak Meadow graduates who go on to some of the finest high schools in the region.
In this world of incredible change, it is also important that teachers are given constant opportunities to learn and grow. This past week, I traveled with four Oak Meadow teachers to Columbus, Ohio for a training program created by an organization called Wildfire Education. We were part of a workshop of about thirty educators from around the country. This was an intense week. We were constantly pushed out of our comfort zones. We delved into research on unfamiliar subjects. It was humbling and illuminating. As teachers, we regularly create learning experiences for our students where they need to push out of their comfort zones and figure out the problems and the solutions on their own. This week, we educators became the students. We experienced those same moments of ambiguity, disequilibrium, and vulnerability on our own, with the goal of growing, discovering, and gaining new understanding.
As a result of this training, we hope to improve our craft of teaching. We plan to pilot in our classrooms a few new ideas aimed at empowering the individual growth of students. We hope to build a culture of growth and experimentation, for the students and for the teachers as well. And we especially hope to build more opportunities for teachers at Oak Meadow to collaborate, learn from each other, and share practices that prove to be most effective. The goal of this effort is crystal clear — to achieve the best possible learning experience for our students.