Education is an ever-evolving fiery beast, it wants to move, it wants to shift, it wants to breathe fire into teachers and students – it does not like being contained, and yet this is exactly what we as educators are doing to it. We are containing education, allowing it to stagnate and smothering its fire. How are we doing this? With the current planning systems in place. Let’s take as an example, Understanding by Design (UbD) – the educational approach of planning backwards and the planners that are associated with it. I can still clearly remember filling the planners out as a French as a Second Language (FSL) teacher during my time at the American School of Doha (ASD) – enduring understandings, essential questions, etc. The concept was first released in 1998, after what I imagine were years of research. By the time I was introduced to it, it was 2004, and the school was still using the same planners when I left in 2008, which is a full decade after its original release. I am sure that education-wise a lot changed within that decade. I am currently back in Canada, and have noticed that in the upper elementary grades at my daughter's school they are using the same UbD planners, and we are now in 2018, a full 20 years later. This article isn’t about criticizing the theory behind UbD, it is about the containment and stagnation of education. I could have used theories and planning systems from the International Baccalaureate Program, the International Primary Curriculum, etc., and still made the same point. If we want education to evolve and flow naturally as it is meant to do, we need to allow it to carve its path. How can we do this? By using Educational Frameworks and accompanying planners that are fluid and elastic.
The beauty of an Educational Framework is that it is based on current student needs and the vision of a school in real-time, no delays. What does your school need and want right now - today. An Educational Framework does not discriminate against any curriculums that a school would like to use, nor does it discount any teaching philosophy or approaches. It takes into account current staff and classes and works around them – specialists, support staff, staff with split-classes, etc. Once the Educational Framework is designed, individualized and fluid planners are created to support it. These planners shift from year to year based on student needs, staffing changes, new approaches a school would like to implement, etc. There is constant growth and change within a school, educators are always pushed to keep current, to learn, to grow, and as a result the students are as well.
Schools do not have to be cookie-cutter cut-outs of one another and should not be using planners that were first introduced 20 years ago because they may not fit current student needs. Schools do not have to provide the same planner to each member of their teaching staff, regardless of their position. Education can easily evolve, shift, move and breathe the fire it was meant to breathe if we have the proper systems in place – Educational Frameworks and fluid planners. To learn more about Educational Frameworks and planners, see the following articles: