The New 4 R’s of Education: The Voicings of a Radical?

Dear Readers and Fellow Visionaries, Inventors, Engineers, & Revolutionaries,

Thank you for your comments on my most recent post,, Towards an Educational Philosophy|What is the Purpose of Education? Your questions and comments have inspired and challenged further thought.

On 4/7/2014, Mary Sullivan @sullivan884 wrote:

We must not reform school, but reimagine education. Until we stop pigeonholing curriculum (i.e. World History, Algebra II)and students(by grade level, by ability…) we will continue in the same path. A few new strategies, perhaps, but within the same design, will not change our outcomes. Visionary, creative leadership outside the bounds of the current school structure is needed. If you could start from scratch, how would you reenvision education to live up to the purpose you’ve stated?”

I agree with Mary that “we must not reform school, but reimagine education.”  However, let’s not stop with reimagining.  These times call for the reengineering of education and nothing short of an absolute education revolution!

My statement of purpose included a reenvisioning of education on multiple levels.  It was intended as a starting point for conversations like the one we are having now.  My intention was to contribute to the ongoing global conversation that just might be producing a tipping point for education revolution.

My views on education have been formed by my experiences as a learner, a parent and now as a teacher and coach.  It would be great to be able to start from scratch, but we will never have that luxury.  The beauty and danger of it is that we are all formed by our experiences when it comes to education.  Education is very personal and ideas about what education can/should/could be are very personal and value-filled.  In addition to the shaping of vision by our own personal values, education is wrapped in a bureaucratic mess of abysmal proportion that will require nothing short of a revolution to meet the needs of 21st century learners.

As a classroom teacher, I acknowledge that my reenvisioning and revolution must begin with action each and every day in my own classroom, but it cannot occur in the traditional “teacher in a silo bubble”.  This comes with the knowledge that these actions will be fraught with moment by moment challenges and resistance.  Challenges and resistance come in many forms and are not limited to the infrastructural, interpersonal, or intrapersonal.  As the days go by in my fourth year of teaching, I have come to the realization that there are a couple of remaining choices given the current dynamic:

0) Quit right now.

1) Cave in, give up, crawl in a hole and pretend things will somehow be all right and worked out by others whilst I wilt on the vine and allow all the reasons that pushed me into education to wither away.

2) Say, [enter your favorite expletive________] it! These are my beliefs, this is my vocation, this is my calling and I am here to STAY!  I will be the change in my own classroom each day.


3) I can say, “Let’s (Let us) DO IT!“…and team up, pal up, PLN up, and collaborate with anyone and everyone who wants to reenvision, reinvent, reengineer, and REVOLUTIONIZE education.

I choose the latter!  LET’S GO!


2 thoughts on “The New 4 R’s of Education: The Voicings of a Radical?”

  1. I am so ready to take on the 4 R’s! To be unshackled from the bureaucracy that binds us to an outdated system, to embrace each child’s learning needs rather than one-size-fits-all coursework…ahhh, the joys that could be! I work in a place that could exercise many freedoms in this regard, yet creativity, imagination & inventiveness are rare. I won’t give up trying to bring about change for the greater good.

  2. Sir Ken Robinson reminds us in TED talks that creativity is important in contemporary education. The research from Neuro-Science suggests that also. According to Eric Jensen in “Arts With The Brain In Mind (2001)” “Mark Hallet (1999), chief neurologist of the human motor control section for neurological disorders and stroke at the National Institutes of Health, says that when athletes achieve excellence in a sport, “they are probably using close to 100% of their brain.” The brain is a system of systems, and a strong kinesthetic arts program (whether it’s recreational, dramatic, or industrial) will activate multiple systems. Using the body means using more of the brain than what we typically use for seatwork” (Jensen 2001. p72). In other words to re-imagine education in a more integrated manner means re-imagining “the Arts” which for Eric Jensen includes Physical Education, the Performing Arts (including Music), Visual Arts and the Industrial Arts (Woodwork, etc). The reality is that knowledge is integrated not discrete. To be able to connect the dots between for example, History, Science and Mathematics is a critical skill that provides a unique view of the world. In a re-imagined educational world, we still want students to know things. We also want them to have critical view of the world and be able to find the information when they don’t know things and be able to evaluate that information. To achieve that, dedicated, passionate teachers that can help them connect to the real world are needed. Thanks again John for another thought provoking piece.

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