School Is Not a Metaphor for Life

School should not simply be a metaphor for life. Our students in our schools today deserve a learning experience that values the contribution they can make to the world around them now.

I have always subscribed to this model or definition of the role of school in our society. It may not be a new one, but it is not something you would call commonplace. More frequently experiences in school are metaphors for the “real” experience a student might have. We present to our peers as opposed to the audience who needs to hear our ideas. We encourage creative ideas but never network those ideas out of the room. This needs to change.

School should not simply be a metaphor for life.

I am grateful to David Hawley who recently put some words around a similar sentiment.

If we were to do something that really mattered to ourselves, our classrooms, our schools, and our community, the potential for impact would be at once local and global. Start finding ways to engage students in understanding real-world problems, and then support them in solving those problems. Every student should experience the joy that comes with being a unique and positive force in the world.

Again the idea of a new education standard comes to mind, a truthful realistic opportunity, not just brochure-ware or tokenistic gestures of student-centredness. After all,

Humanity cannot wait for students to graduate.

It is always encouraging isn’t it when you discover your own thinking articulated in someone else’s words. David Hawley references a crucial new definition of what a learning portfolio could be, something in line with parameters referencing: experience, change, influence, creative contribution and social impact.

We need to give students in every school, at every age, real agency and authentic opportunities to make a difference in this volatile, unpredictable, complex, and ambiguous world. With this in mind, we cannot be satisfied only with students learning about the world and developing deep conceptual understanding of multiple disciplines. We need young people building an ever-expanding portfolio of skills and experiences of things that they have done, created, and contributed to – things that matter to them, to others, and to the world we share.

These concepts excite me the most about the future of learning and the re-definition of “school”. I am not sure we can wait much longer. Even Dewey knew this to be true:

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.

Tom Barrett

Tom is a writer, speaker and consultant. He has been sharing his thoughts on teaching, learning, curiosity and creativity on this blog for over 10 years. Drinking coffee and writing would be his idea of a perfect day.

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About Tom Barrett 552 Articles
Tom is a writer, speaker and consultant. He has been sharing his thoughts on teaching, learning, curiosity and creativity on this blog for over 10 years. Drinking coffee and writing would be his idea of a perfect day.

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22 Comments on "School Is Not a Metaphor for Life"

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[…] I have long been interested in shining a light on the emotional journey of learning. At the centre stands the need for greater understanding and development of empathy. This challenge is meant on many levels, including the design of learning and the overall ambition and vision a school has. […]

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[…] I have long been interested in shining a light on the emotional journey of learning. At the centre stands the need for greater understanding and development of empathy. This challenge is meant on many levels, including the design of learning and the overall ambition and vision a school has. […]

ddraper
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6 months 21 days ago

School Is Not a Metaphor for Life https://t.co/8QoSjuxtAJ Great post by @tombarrett that I’d like to expand upon in the future.

DaneBarner
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6 months 21 days ago

This is outstanding: School is not a metaphor for life: https://t.co/R6np18WYPf School should be, but then it would have to unpredictable.

digleaddaily
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6 months 21 days ago

School Is Not a Metaphor for Life | @tombarrett https://t.co/XDCSVg18Hr #edchat #edtech #cpchat #futureready

eslengonline
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6 months 22 days ago

School Is Not a Metaphor for Life – The Curious Creative https://t.co/xcDK7nNfvg

airhead_edu
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6 months 22 days ago

School Is Not a Metaphor for Life https://t.co/ImGyd0h3hO #education #edchat

learnocracy
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6 months 22 days ago

School Is Not a Metaphor for Life https://t.co/ZcKbcR7bTU #education #edchat

4C3d
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6 months 23 days ago

School Is Not a Metaphor for Life – The Curious Creative https://t.co/xcVTQcWdCG via @tombarrett

Kevin Hewitson
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6 months 23 days ago

Fully agree but waiting for the systems to change is like waiting for rain in the desert. Better to find ways of enabling learners to manage their own learning, as is quoted “real agency”. This has been my single aim for 5 years now. Where am I? Well I have a narrative, a way of exploring learning needs that builds self efficacy and develops real agency, and it is called “Learning Intelligence”. Link to the first article is: http://wp.me/p2LphS-3p PLease, I encourage you all to explore the many articles on LQ and challenge me where you see limitations.

Maha4Learning
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6 months 23 days ago

RT @mrkrndvs: “School Is Not a Metaphor for Life” @tombarrett https://t.co/L6NEwYSCYm

mrkrndvs
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6 months 23 days ago

“School Is Not a Metaphor for Life” @tombarrett https://t.co/L6NEwYSCYm

BloggersELT
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6 months 23 days ago

via @tombarrett School Is Not a Metaphor for Life https://t.co/QlixUcO2uI

gaw101
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6 months 23 days ago

“School Is Not a Metaphor for Life” https://t.co/2AVKCBccgM

ameliadgvl
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6 months 23 days ago

School Is Not a Metaphor for Life – The Curious Creative https://t.co/TXX7JG0cug via tombarrett

ValterGouveia
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6 months 24 days ago

Top story: School Is Not a Metaphor for Life – The Curious Creative https://t.co/SflF69m0Ig, see more https://t.co/wP2v88lQ4G

GillDuncan1
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6 months 24 days ago

RT @tombarrett: School Is Not a Metaphor for Life https://t.co/NPWOlRk1YW <my new blog post>

robandart
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6 months 24 days ago

RT @tombarrett: School Is Not a Metaphor for Life https://t.co/NPWOlRk1YW <my new blog post>

edwaves
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6 months 24 days ago

School Is Not a Metaphor for Life https://t.co/WEqDCvcT0o

tombarrett
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6 months 24 days ago

School Is Not a Metaphor for Life https://t.co/NPWOlRk1YW <my new blog post>

Thembinkosi
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6 months 24 days ago

RT @tombarrett: New post: School Is Not a Metaphor for Life https://t.co/xrHARLJSlJ

tombarrett
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6 months 24 days ago

New post: School Is Not a Metaphor for Life https://t.co/xrHARLJSlJ

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