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The Learner-Centered Leader: What Education Should Be
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The Humans At The Center Of Everything We Do

In my perfect world, schools are based on the diagram above. The learner is at the center of every decision made in the school. This implies there is no room for decisions centered on "adult convenience". The school is systemically built to provide the optimal learning experience for every learner. Period.

As I look around at what is occurring in society, I see that learner-centered leaders will increasingly deal with "parent's rights." "Parent's rights" is a topic that certain politicians have sunk their teeth into because they view it as politically advantageous for their careers. Now, I am not too sure what they mean by "parent's rights," but it seems that when questions of social-emotional learning, "critical race theory", and curriculum "transparency" are mentioned they fall under the umbrella of "parent's rights."

Those three topics are hot-button political issues. I am not going to debate the merits or drawbacks of these ideas...I refuse to be brought into the culture wars of America. However, school leaders are going to have to talk about these issues because they are squarely in the 2022 culture wars.

How we discuss these topics will, to a large extent, determine how effectively we can educate all of our children. I know it is not wise to debate these issues with people...especially since most people have made up their minds where they land on the subject and facts will not deter them from their opinion. 

I am suggesting that you approach the discussion with a learner-centered framework. Here is mine.

The center of the ecosystem is the learner.

Hold on, I am afraid that the word "learner" is still too abstract.

Let me try again. In the center of the ecosystem is a human being...a human. We can't forget this little fact. Sitting there in the middle of all of our work in schools is a human being with a heart, a brain, and a soul. No, they are not perfect, but that is what makes them human. 

I am disheartened that the humans that we want to be at the center of all we do in schools are used as representations of something that is going on in the larger society. Humans do not represent anything else except being human!

In the case of our learners, these humans represent nothing more than their own unique humanness.

Learners do not represent numbers on a standardized test.

Learners do not represent a "hillbilly" because they live in Appalachia.

Learners do not represent an entire minority group if they are an ethnic or racial minority.

Learners do not represent a pawn in any culture war battle.

Learners are humans.

Treat them with kindness

Treat them with compassion.

Just be nice!


Decentralized Schooling (Or Let's formalize Informal Learning)

As I reflect on the potential impact of web 3.0 I keep coming back to the idea of "decentralization." Now, this term means something different to different people within the Web 3.0 community, but here is my shot at a definition.

Decentralization is the empowerment of individuals to show their excellence.

Right now, decentralized finance is gaining traction in everyday life. The role of banks will significantly change over the next 10 years. Notice I did not claim that banks were going away...that would be foolish. However, how they do their jobs will change as a result of decentralized finance.

(One note...when I talk about web 3.0, understand that web 3.0 will coexist with web 2.0...there will not be a complete change from one to the other. Like everything in life, what needs to change will change and what needs to stay will stay.)

So, let's see how there can be decentralized schooling. To start, let's think about all of the informal ways in which people learn. As a matter of fact, most of what we learn in our lifetimes is informal. Imagine a world where what we learn informally can be made to help us formally in our careers and in our life. That would be awesome!

Presently, our centralized schooling system looks like this.

High schools, CTC's, colleges, and private certification programs operate under this system. A person is exposed to something, they are tested on what they were exposed to, and they receive some sort of certificate if they pass the test. 

Let's imagine a world where anyone can learn something and "show their learning" on a web 3.0 app. Through competencies or the reputation of the trainer, people will be able to transfer their real learning... thus making informal learning, formal. 

In the future, schools will be able to embed these informal learning opportunities into their system, allowing learners to have learning opportunities that go beyond the walls of the traditional school. Schools will become more important than they are now!!

I personally, can't wait for this to happen.
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Let's Define Learning Together
It is obvious to me that we need to define learning. If you are a school district leader the first activity you should do is to create an agreed upon definition of learning. Once you have the definition, you can then align your school system to make sure learners are working toward your definition.

Let’s work together to define learning. I have created a Google doc where you can add your definition of learning. Once I get all of your responses, we will try to simplify it to a clear definition.

If you want to participate, click on the button below!
Go To The Google Doc
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