On the eve of the inaugural SingularityU NZ Summit I am continuing to build some very genuine levels excitement about what I might learn and how it might reframe my thinking about the future of education. It has been awesome to be part of what feels like a groundswell of educators who share a passion for futures thinking and educational change and it has been equally exciting to see this become a theme of large scale conferences such as Ulearn and EduTech and the many smaller corporate organised edu-conferences that have popped up in recent years.
However alongside this excitement this excitement there has also been a sense of frustration. Whilst there is absolutely a growing demand for educational change, there is also sense that these "edu-changemakers" still, in a sense live within a bit of a bubble. Head to any conference and you see the same lovely group of educators, speaking for the most part about variations of the same stuff - me included (see above). You can't help feeling that those wanting to make real change exist in what can feel like an echo-chamber, who for the most part are simply preaching to the converted.
So I guess I am looking forward to SingularityU for two key reasons.
The first reason - I want to hear fresh stuff.
I am really looking forward to hearing stuff that blows the top of my freakin' head off. Whilst I am passionate about and a passionate advocate for the concepts and thinking that sit behind "design thinking", "makerspaces", "e-learning", "BYOD", "learner agency", "coding" and all the other educational jargon that I and everyone else seems to be waffling on about at educational conferences, I fear I am suffering from "jargon jaundice", and worry this may lead to "futurist fatigue". So SingularityU I am looking to you! I want new learning, like hurt-your-brain learning. I want to be shaken out of my "modern learning malaise" and come away thoroughly coated in some "exponential ectoplasm".
The second reason - I want everyone to hear fresh stuff...and want them to want change.
I really hope this event is a catalyst for a widespread call for change, particularly in our schools. One of my frustrations is the sense that whilst people love educators writing and talking about change, they still seem to hesitate appointing "change leaders" to lead their (secondary) schools. Until each and every school leader is a leader of change, education in NZ will stumble and ultimately stall. Schools in NZ are governed by Boards of Trustees, who for the most part are interested parents and community members. I am hoping an event like SingularityU reaches them, the communities and families who will then demand schools (particularly secondary schools) evolve to meet the exponential change we are are experiencing in our workplaces and society at large. NZ already has one of the most open and future-focused curriculum, we also have a pretty flexible and forward thinking qualification framework, yet many secondary school timetables look the same as they did 50 years ago. I really hope this event can rattle the "college cages" and help our schools and communities to understand that it is going to take more than BYOD and Makerspaces to properly prepare our young people.
And of course I am looking forward to visiting Christchurch and meeting many like-minded people! Bring it on SingularityU!