Fragments II: micro stories about the learning business

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  • David Willows

Mapping the Future of Education Begins with Finding the Right Words

Whether it is down to the uncertainty of our times, or a growing sense of unease about what school should be for, mapping the future of education is very much on trend these days.


Schools all over the world are ditching their cliche-ridden mission statements, along with their trust in tired cycles of perpetual improvement.


In their place, new expressions are beginning to emerge that are, each in their own way, an attempt to map out and lead us towards a future that is still just beyond the horizon.


The words and phrases that we are leaving behind, as we continue our quest, maybe once served us well. But no longer. Today, like elevator music, they hang in the air as hollow expressions of who we are and what we believe. They no longer drive action or inspire us and they were never really understood by anyone beyond the school gate.


At the heart of the Advancement task is the quest for a new lexicon.

The words and phrases that we are turning to are audacious, opinionated, rooted in passion and, if we are lucky, likely to raise an eyebrow or two. They dare to suggest that we can draw down the future, create it, and shape it in ways that will be profoundly relevant for the students we teach.


They imagine with optimism and encourage each one of us to join the adventure. They are written in the sky and force us to look beyond next year’s tactics and even our medium term strategies, to something that is at once an expression of who we are and who we want to be.


If you like, the words and phrases that we are turning to are a school’s expression of its best self.

Jon Bon Jovi once said, Map out your future, but do it in pencil.


But mapping the future of education, I respectfully suggest, requires us to leave the pencil to one side.


Our Advancement task is to seek out words, listen for them, combine and recombine them in ways that conjure new meaning and new possibilities.


And then having the courage to write them down in permanent ink.


Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

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