29. January 2021

Reimagine schooling

The shutdown of schools has brought the misery of our education system to the foreground. Thanks to homeschooling, most of us were shocked to experience the pressing deficits of our unsustainable education system directly at our kitchen tables. We realized that our kids are simply not able to learn without teachers and schools. Parents were overwhelmed by their children’s lack of concentration and their inability to take responsibility for their own learning processes, and wished desperately that schools and teachers might take over again.

The kids are not wrong – our schooling system is. What went wrong with our education system is greatly illustrated in this 10-Minute TED Talk from Sir Ken Robinson. Considering that human beings are among the most creative and best learning species on earth, it’s embarrassing to see how our education system seems rather to erode than to foster our human learning strength. Actually, this shouldn’t surprise us when we consider how learning is organized in school classes today dates back to the 14th century. When watching this video, it becomes clear that digitalization will not solve our problem.

What we need is to reimagine schools from a place to teach to a place to learn. Imagine, our kids were not only able to reproduce content provided by teachers but capable of organizing their learning in their own responsibility? This might sound like a dream for any homeschooling-suffering parents. It’s already been the reality for years in the small community of Wutöschingen in the south of Germany. The home of one of the rare public schools that had hardly anything to adapt during the pandemic, as the overall educational concept is anyhow a self-organized and self-paced learning concept, where homeschooling has always been a key part. Already before the pandemic, digital tools were put in place to support this self-paced learning concept and to intelligently tie together the different roles and responsibilities of teachers, parents, maids and kids into the process. It becomes clear that digital tools will only unfold students’ potentials if we courageously reimagine new learning-centered schooling concepts. Interestingly, the biggest challenges in such concepts are for teachers to shift from their traditional instruction to a consultant-for-learning role. Ranked among the best schools in Germany, the award-winning example of Wutöschingen proved to me a great lighthouse project on how to reimagine adequate schooling in the 21st century.

Interested German-speaking readers can watch the latest press coverage of the Allemannen-Schule in Wutöschingen in German television ZDF.

Dr. Eva Bilhuber
Dr. Eva Bilhuber
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