What if…

I’ve been pondering… what if education looked different?

What if we truly valued what really matters rather than what used to matter?

What if we cared more about the progress students are making rather than the marks, grades or number of credits they get?

What if we were more concerned about the skills that will be needed for the future rather than the fact that life is going to look very different for our school leavers?

What if we allowed students to choose the teacher that they felt was the best fit for their learning and not just allocated a teacher?

What if there was a playstation/TV/Sports channel on in every classroom and teachers had to make their lessons more compelling than these?

What if we grouped students by independence levels and not age groups?

What if school was open from 8am – 6pm and students could choose when they start and go home?

What if relevance was they key driver of lessons rather than content?

What if students could choose when they sit their assessments rather than having to do it on a specific day?

What if there were no national assessments and instead students showed a portfolio of evidence?

What if every student’s learning was personalised to their needs and interests?

What if mastery was the constant rather than the time students have to learn the information?

What if we were more interested in who a student is becoming rather than the job they are going to be doing?

What if students were the teachers and teachers were the students?

What if mistakes were celebrated and not something to be ashamed of?

What if the students had the vision of learning and not the teacher?

What if teachers and students were so excited to come to school every day, they bounced out of bed every morning?

What if …   what would you add?


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Published on Wednesday, February 7th, 2018, under Curriculum design, Learning, Transformational Learning

Karen Tui Boyes is a champion for Life Long Learning across nations, industries and organisations. Winner of the NZ Educator of the Year 2017 and 2014 and the NZ Speaker of the Year award in 2013 & 2019, Karen is a sought after speaker who continually gets rave reviews from audiences around the world. Her dynamic style and highly informative content—which turns the latest educational research into easy-to-implement strategies and techniques — sets her apart from others in her field.

12 Responses to “What if…”

  1. Awesome questions Karen – I think we are nearing a tipping point where education is about to be radically different. Your questions are great thought starters.

  2. Some of your “what if’s” existed prior to the introduction of National Standards. Having to switch from a student-driven to a result-driven focus resulted in a huge increase in “busy-work” for teachers, less time addressing individual needs, and a politically-driven “One system fits all.” An 8AM to 6PM school day sounds great for the student. I can just see principals informing staff that they are now required to be on-site from 7 to 7.

  3. Keith Mason says:

    The common thread in these what if questions is empowering both teachers and learners. Individuals who take ownership of their actions will prevail. My what if; What if we could reach and teach every student every day? Great food for thought, Karen.

  4. Roland Meredith says:

    What if every learner was stretched and challenged in every learning session, but never left behind?

    The challenge is for content and context to enable access and progress for every learner. We can’t expect all learners to start at the same point at the beginning of a learning session, because they will all have finished at different points in the last.

    What if every learning session provided opportunities for children and young people to acquire and develop the skills and personal attributes they need for life and work?

    Sorry, I know that 2!!

  5. I wrote this a number of years ago regarding family engagement. It seems like a an extension if your thoughts:


  6. Great aspirations….and is what we strive to provide at Ako – new primary school started in February this year in Northcote, Auckland by some parents wanting something different for their kids.

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