Challenging the industrial model of schooling is, of course, not a new refrain. Leaders in government, industry, universities and schools alike have for some time called for education to be reinvented. Yet despite substantial investment of money and energy, most efforts at transformation fail to deliver.
We contend that the heart of the problem lies in the way we think as teachers about our task. Our own schooling, our training and our experience (often largely on our own, behind our closed classroom door), has formed a powerful and often implicit mental model of what schooling should be. Take the usual constraints away and we often revert to what we’ve always done. To really be able to change we don’t just need new techniques or technologies. We don’t just need to work harder. What we need is nothing short of a reformation of our thinking — new mental models for what school could be.
That is why we encourage staff to be involved in research and why we commit ourselves as a learning organisation to partner in research. Discovering new knowledge is critical, of course, not least in inverting the assumption that schools only consume that produced by experts elsewhere. But perhaps more valuable than research findings is the formation in new ways of thinking that engagement in research brings. Thinking hard. Negotiating complexity and ambiguity. Testing ideas in action. Collaborating across boundaries. Communicating with precision. Being humble and hopeful. Always seeking to get better.
Such skills and character traits are essential for the success of our students as they navigate the future. Little can be more important, in forming young people, than in being reformed ourselves as educators. This is why we seek to be a research-invested school. This is what we mean by aspiring, through our Patribus Initiatives, to be an expert community of formation. This is at the heart of our vision for reinventing education, not just at Scots, but in partnership with others. If you're interested in connecting, please let us know!