This was the question posed by the eloquent, emphatic voice of Valorie Hannon at EduTech this week. With all the reforms, all the money, all the technology, all the societal change we have seen, the actual purpose of learning has not been critically questioned. We certainly have no common answer. Despite the problems we face internally, in our relationships, in our society of nations and on our planet, we don’t ask this question often enough nor get satisfactory answers: what is learning for?
I’m not going to try to offer a comprehensive solution here, though I am going to borrow one of Stephen Heppell’s phrases: we can heal the world with learning. We humans have done much damage to ourselves, each other and the world in the name of progress or change and learning can help heal the gashes we inflict on ourselves. We can learn to be better or we can learn to be worse. Perhaps even worse than that, we can learn to be apathetic. Regardless, the purpose of learning, at least in part, should be about healing the world so that we are a healthy organism and not a cold, lifeless rock floating through space where the only sounds are ghosts of dreams.
So I was incredibly proud and humbled to learn with teachers at the TeachMeet sessions at the EduTech conference. Primary and secondary, experienced and new, techie and non-techie, all types of teachers took part in our brief but powerful TeachMeets that proved yet again the dynamic, creative, passionate force that teachers bring to the education table. Though they were only given 7 or 2 minutes, the ideas on computational thinking, on leadership, on effective use of backchannelling, on wellbeing and so much more gave those taking part an astonishing array of new ideas and strategies that they could take back and apply in their schools across Australia.
I hope that more and more people will see professional learning as an essential part of their growth as part of this vocation we call teaching. I hope that we can go beyond merely meeting standards and ticking boxes and start to explore the stratospheric heights of research and practice.
There will be many challenges ahead for education, for the economy, for democracy and for society. But if we just make the time to listen to one another and learn with one another, we can not only drag people out of the clutches of oppression and bigotry, but also elevate ourselves to new heights of humanity.
My thanks to those who took part in the TeachMeets this week at Edutech and at all professional learning events. You’re making it happen.
Special mentions need to go to the following edumasters who shared their time and thoughts at TMEduTech and beyond: @danhaesler @largerama @msalexisclass @jdtriver @madgiemgEDU @rolfek @BeLchick1 @CathyWilson123 @petersercombe @PaulFHerring @grahamwegner @rooballs @jca_1975 @HostBrian @lilylauren @canhaynes @E_Sheninger