It takes only a glance at the newsstands to know that education is in deep trouble. In France, 250,000 students recently took to the streets to protest unsafe conditions and reduced education budgets. In the U.S., public schools in some parts of the country are being all but abandoned by those who can afford private alternatives. And around the world, education – preparing the next generation to lead productive and fulfilling lives – too often suffers from being on the short end of a dwindling resource stream.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Everywhere on the planet, committed teachers, researchers and administrators are working to develop exemplary schools, 21st-century curricula, and innovative teaching strategies – for people of all ages, abilities, and learning styles. As guest editor Dee Dickinson notes, "The revolution has begun."
It may come as a surprise that much of this revolution is not based on expensive electronic equipment. Rather, it involves a shift in the way we understand what it means to learn and to teach. Yes, we need to invest more money and resources in our schools, our teachers, our students, and ourselves. But we need equally to invest more creativity, compassion, attention, and discernment. We need to be willing to make significant changes not only in the structures of education, but in our ideas about learning.
But learning for what? We are already far too skilled in exploiting the Earth for human ends, yet we are still terribly ignorant about the real basics of life – how to live sustainably on this planet, and in peace with each other. So whether you consider yourself an educator, a learner, or a concerned citizen, this issue is for you; for if the insights and technologies gathered here were put to the service of healing our societies and the planet’s life systems, they would spark a revolution of enormous – and beautiful – proportions. We hope you’ll participate in making that vision a reality.
Special thanks to our guest editors for this issue, Dee Dickinson and Linda MacRae-Campbell of New Horizons for Learning, an international network of education innovators based in Seattle, Washington.