• Janelle Safford

Education Hippies?...Maybe!


  • Counterculture - a subculture whose values and norms of behavior differ substantially from those of mainstream society, often in opposition to mainstream cultural mores.

  • Bureaucratic - of, relating to, or characteristic of a bureaucrat or a bureaucracy; arbitrary and routine.

  • Nonconformist - A person who does not conform to prevailing ideas or practices in their behaviour or views.

I guess you could say that I have always been a little on the side of rebellion in my career. This is not to say that I purposefully go against the grain just to be obstinant, but instead, I often question the reasons behind decisions that I feel need to be answered. I despise nothing more than for someone to explain that the ONLY reason behind a decision, is “that’s just the way we have always done it.” I equally can’t stand it when decisions are made solely for the comfort of the decision maker, without regard for the benefits that change could possibly bring about for students.

I have seen Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk several times and each time I hear him, his message speaks to my soul. His statement about education needing a revolution, not an evolution is why I am sometimes difficult in the eyes of my administrators. As I thought about the current dramatic influence of technology in education today, a somewhat funny association kept popping into my head. Are we, as proponents of constructivist learning, the equivalent to the “Hippies” counterculture of the 60’s?” I am by no means comparing or considering political statements, drugs or even free love. However, I am simply considering how the idea that students should be learning in a different manner that is contrary the current traditional approach is spreading by a sort of grassroots, nonconformist group of educators that are willing to openly stand up for what they believe. We are pushing against the bureaucratic system so that students might benefit from learning by constructing their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. Access to a never ending supply of information through the internet is causing traditional education models to reconsider how students learn. There is a growing movement advocating a more personalized environment that takes into consideration the learner and moves away from the standard way of approaching every learner the same. I admittedly did not live in the 60’s so I can’t make a firm comparison, but on the surface I believe that it takes a group of people taking a stand to change the status quo for the good of others much like the hippie culture of the 60’s caused a country to consider civil rights and conformity.

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