Education should nurture and expand on a child’s natural capacity and curiosity, not limit them.
Experiences that draw on the playful, engaging, self-directed learning that all children pursue intuitively help to develop deep understanding and knowledge, create high engagement and motivation in students, and support the development of the breadth of skills necessary for learners to thrive and broaden their own horizons. This deeper understanding and skills development is essential for the students of today to succeed in a workplace that is evolving in profound ways—from a primacy on collaboration to the rapid acceleration of automation and the integration of artificial intelligence.11 But, today, our system isn’t set up to provide these experiences for every learner or the context that enables them to take root.
Current systems are not designed to allow for the systemic scaling of innovative, holistic approaches that support wide-ranging, connected skills development. Instead, assessment systems, funding streams, and existing education policies discount the importance of positive context, narrowly define student achievement, and perpetuate outdated conceptions of learning and development as a series of separate, independently developed domains. This disconnected approach “fails to capture the real nature of learning-to-learn, and particularly the skills required in learning-to-learn that truly allow children to be prepared for 21st century opportunities.”12
As long as developmental domains remain siloed from one another, as long as policies and practices are unmoored from established research and science, and as long as we fail to provide adequate support for educators and families, we will fail to achieve positive outcomes for all students. Continuing current educational practices that don’t reflect whole-learner concepts artificially limits the capacity of young people to achieve, and lowers the ceiling on economic and social growth for our communities and our country.
“This disconnected approach ‘fails to capture the real nature of learning-to-learn, and particularly the skills required in learning-to-learn that truly allow children to be prepared for 21st century opportunities.”
11 Bughin, J., et al. (May 2018). Skill Shift: Automation and the Future of the Workforce. McKinsey Global Institute, U.S.
12 Golinkoff, R.M., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2016). Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children. APA Press: Washington, D.C.