What is Education in the Modern Era? By Stacey Dallas Johnston
Big question. Big answer. Education itself is no longer a simplistic term to define teaching and learning. Education is now: Education Policy, Education Funding, Educational Pedagogy, Education Advocacy, Educational Choice, Education Subcommittees, Educators, and the list goes on.
“Education” has sprouted so many heads, that sometimes it’s difficult to remember that they all stem from the same body. Each focused on its own point of view, yet ultimately, serving one larger purpose.
Education today is laden with technology, bustling with “experts”, and ironically short on actual classroom teachers. We have gotten to a point where talking and debating about education is overshadowing the actual process of educating.
This is not to say that there isn’t some quality educating going on. Of course there is. Not only is it happening, it is happening in amazing ways in classrooms and schools around the U.S. and the world. But one of the side effects of moving into this era of modern education is that educators and Education don’t always occupy the same space.
There’s no master plan to keep the two apart, it is just a consequence of the evolution. However, before the gap gets any wider, we can enter a new era of education. There are educators chomping at the bit to be leaders. There are programs and entities touting teacher leadership opportunities. Both are meaningful, and both can contribute to the continued progress of modern education.
On this winding path to “Modern Education” it might be time for all the people, regardless of what role they play or title that they hold, to coalesce into a united front. At this point it may sound like a far-fledged hope. Well, this morning on the radio, I heard that we are not too far from the Ray Bradbury-esque home depicted in his 1950 short story “There Will Come Soft Rains.” If my paper towel holder can self -inventory and restock via Amazon, then I have high hopes that the education space can build a sturdy, yet metaphorical table, and invite anyone who wants a seat to pull up a chair.
There are so many small pockets, or forks in the path, but we have yet to find one another. Modern Education is making strides, changing the system, and slowly but surely smoothing down the gravely path. Modernized Modern Education will pay no mind to left or right, but will diverge from the lanes and find a wide open space where practitioners, parents, principals, and pupils all are seen to have expertise and can work to bring down some of the unnecessary walls. Though everyone has a role to play and a place to contribute, the word Education, no longer has to be an ambiguous term meaning everything from policy to finance to curriculum to choice to test scores.
Education is big, but not so big that is can not be pivoted or even led by the hand. In Modern Education there is now a call to arms: let teachers lead, don’t just invite them to the table, pull out their chairs; listen to students, they shouldn’t have to march the streets to be heard; remember that education is a civil right and deserves to be civil and civically minded.
Modern Education is not the stuff of a futuristic novel or a far off dream. Modern education is happening now, and it is our duty as its purveyors to do it justice and help it carve out its own path.
Stacey Dallas Johnston is a veteran educator from Las Vegas, NV. After 18 years in the classroom teaching English Literature and Creative Writing, Principles of Leadership, and acting as a Magnet Theme Coordinator, Johnston has joined the NDE as the Teacher Leader in Residence. After serving with the U.S. Department of Education as a Teaching Ambassador Fellow, Johnston now has the opportunity to fuse federal policy to state-level policy and act as a conduit between the practitioners in the field and the NDE. Johnston is also a fellow of the Southern Nevada Writing Project and runs an independent blog about education called This Teacher’s Journey.