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The Vision 2020 by 2020 Course of Action

Vision 2020 by 2020 is based on the premise that public education, as we know it, must be redesigned. Salvage attempts dating back decades have failed and scientific pursuits of something fundamentally different have been neglected.

“What world do we want children to inherit?” is the primary question Vision 2020 by 2020 seeks to answer with its vision for public education. The intent in asking this question is to shift the general perception that education is to prepare children for jobs, to that of cultivating wellbeing and good citizenship. Jobs, roughly defined as constructive work for the common good, are not discounted. They are seen as an element of good citizenship, and so it is a broader view of the purpose of education that is being encouraged.

This broader view accentuates the need for children to be responsible for self, which is not what traditional schools foster. Our controlled, teacher-directed schools that are historically a relatively new development have been around long enough now that we take them as a given. Some critics call them obedience schools because they require subservience and tend to defer children taking responsibility for themselves until after they graduate. It is the opinion of Vision 2020 by 2020 that to learn what it is to be responsible, people need to be given responsibility. With respect to education this means giving children more control over their learning.

Extending more control over learning to the learner has other potential benefits. Engagement is found to be affected by the amount of control a person has over one’s activities. Alfie Kohn, a noted educational thinker, reinforces this point. He has said that the best predictor of burnout (i.e. a lack of engagement) “is not too much work, too little time, or too little compensation. Rather, it is powerlessness – a lack of control over what one is doing.” Referring directly to education he says this view is unlikely to make much difference in our schools “so long as students are controlled and silenced”.

It is on the basis of this thinking that Vision 2020 by 2020 is promoting the democratic approach to learning. The democratic learning model extends control to the learner, and its flexibility promises an overall solution to our education dilemma, but it faces a major hurdle. The majority of people have little faith that children are capable of managing their own learning. This lack of faith in children is perpetuated by autocratic school systems that view rebellion and disengagement as irresponsibility and incompetence. Analyzing the truth in the saying: “I was such a great learner, and then I went to school” one might even conclude that autocratic schools don’t only perpetuate the lack of faith in children; they are creators of it. With decades of discontent telling us that children are not getting the education they need when educators control the agenda, the time has come to determine conclusively what happens when student are given more control over their learning.

Vision 2020 by 2020 is consequently advocating for a thorough investigation of what does happen. For its part it is encouraging people who want to get involved to initiate small pilot projects in their local secondary schools. (For people involved with younger children please see: A Note to Parents and Teachers of Younger Children). The proposed pilots are designed to be easily implemented with no increased risk to students choosing to participate in them. If a large enough number of such pilots are created and the findings strongly support the need to give students more control, then substantial groundwork will have been laid for a fundamental remake of public education.

Once people accept that giving students more control over their learning is a good thing, their imaginations become free to run wild with possibilities. Digging deeper into this site will unveil some of these possibilities, but the content presented here needs to be viewed as that of a new science. The journey of aviation from a single Kitty Hawk to fleets of transcontinental passenger jets involved many great minds and took decades of development. Public education based on students controlling their own learning is at the beginning of one such journey, but an equally exciting one it promises to be.

Next: Specifics of the Vision 2020 by 2020 Pilot Projects

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