In the Age of Uncertainty, the Future is Open

ISB Learning By Design 2017 is a call to reimagine the way schools facilitate learning in a culture characterized by open knowledge systems, inclusive educational communities, and rapid social change. We are very pleased to have David Price, OBE, joining us as a lead learning facilitator for this event. Price’s book OPEN: How We’ll Work, Live and Learn in the Future has, to a significant extent, along with some other key practitioners, informed the theme of Learning by Design. The narrative and informed, thoughtful style of this work resonates strongly with readers. What Price does exceptionally well is articulate the inevitable challenges that face schools in a language that is clear and incisive in a manner that is both challenging and provocative. His work informs and guides some of the key issues facing schools today.

On The Paradigm Shift:
How we learn, and whom we learn from, has been transformed. Our reliance upon anointed experts and authority figures has diminished, while our capacity to learn from each other has spiralled.

On Teachers as Designers:
Don’t allow teachers to simply ‘deliver’ learning. They need to be designers and researchers of learning.

On Leaders and Testing:
The surest way to prepare students for life beyond formal education is to make education as much like that life as possible. It takes a brave education leader, however, to defy the current obsession with testing.

On Learning Environments:
The wisest course of action is to create the right learning environment, culture and context, which brings people together to learn from each other.

On School Leadership:
We should be in no doubt that businesses, schools and colleges that continue with ‘command and control’ as their dominant forms of leadership and intellectual property strategies are facing extinction, possibly within five to ten years. Why? Because we, as consumers, employees and, crucially, learners, won’t stand for it anymore.

On Digital Literacy:
Terrorists used to communicate by letter, but we didn’t try to ban stamps; we teach our children how to cross the road, we don’t ban cars. The blocking of social media sites in schools –the default position in the US and UK –not only inhibits learning, it does nothing to help our kids develop the digital literacy skills (knowing which information sources can be trusted, how to verify accuracy, etc.) they will need beyond school.

On School Culture:
It encompasses the ‘ecology’ of learning: the relationships we have with each other; the creation of an hospitable habitat for learning; how we cultivate the evolution of learning in communal, social environments, to transfer it successfully to others, establishing a set of commonly-agreed principles which will make learning inclusive and innovative.

On Core Values:
The visionaries of the future are likely to emerge from the kind of environments where learning is collaborative, social, passion-led and values-driven, networked, horizontal, democratic and creative.

On Disruption:
Forget e-learning – the concept of Personal Learning Networks, facilitated through social media, is the biggest disruptive innovation to have hit learning in 50 years.

While today’s schools are open to radical shifts in how they work, live and learn, the profound challenge is to figure out how they should adapt to this vision. OPEN offers an inspiring and very thoughtful roadmap that offers optimism and pragmatic advice for the way forward. The essence of Price’s work is a fundamental reality that cannot be ignored:

“We know only two things for certain. The first is that we should learn to embrace uncertainty, because this age of uncertainty could become permanent. The second is that if all the old certainties are gone, then we have to be open to radical shifts in how we work, live and learn.”

The age of uncertainty is here to stay. The future is open.

The International School of Brussels (ISB) invites you to join this conversation. Please contribute your thoughts on what “Learning by Design” means to you here.

Image Credit: Courtesy of David Price.