"Timeless Learning is a book that directs our attention to children. The authors implore us -- everyone involved in education -- to see children. They share their lessons about learning to "be much much better at seeing children." - Yong Zhao
As I read Timeless Learning; How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools today, I found myself curating my own vision and work as an educator. I recommend that all educators read this book and reflect as I did because this book will help you to create a classroom, school, system, and/or district that is engaging, positive, future-ready, and as the title suggests, timeless.
As I read through the book, I thought about the many decisions made each and every day in schools, decisions that often occur as responses to whims, complaints, or ideas that emanate from a few. Too often these decisions are made without a real sense of vision, mission, or philosophy, and when this happens, schools of old become increasingly mired in outdated practice, beliefs, and investment. This is probably why schools have not changed much in 100 years.
Timeless Learning provides educators at all levels information, inspiration, questions, and ideas for developing a deep set of priorities focused on what's best for the children we teach and the schools we support today and into the future. Rather than supporting superficial change and outdated schools, this books calls educators at all levels to think deeply about how we create spaces, use time, and promote programming that truly puts children at the center of their education in empowering ways.
Personally, the book has inspired me to develop my ability to observe and respond more to children in deep, meaningful ways. "Kidwatching" as this practice is referred to in the book helps educators to teach content within a child's context, and this results in engaging learning that often leads to flow. The book has also deepened my conviction that developing trusting relationships with the children you teach is a top priority when it comes to teaching well. Further, I'll also use the many ideas for deepening teaching/learning projects and problems to inspire students' creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.
The ideas to promote more micro-immersion experiences as part of professional learning were wonderful too. I hope to attend New York's Maker Faire to reap the same inspiration that educators from Albemarle Schools gained, and I hope to write grants and look for more micro-immersion experiences for colleagues and students to develop our ability to learn together in deep and satisfying ways.
Timeless Learning affirmed my desire to deepen my ability to teach math and science in meaningful ways. I suspect that I'll return to chapters in the book as colleagues and I work to remake our schedule, look for ways to engage every child in meaningful learning experiences, provide opportunity to all, and forward greater project based learning--the kind of learning students want to continue well after or before the official school day/year.
I believe that this book would serve as a positive book for administrative and/or school teams to read together and discuss chapter by chapter as they create vision and mission as well as discuss the philosophies that lie at the foundation of their individual and collective education practices. It's a good book for affirmation too because we can use the stories and research included in the book as rationale for our own transformative decisions and practice. We can share this rationale with families and others who may question changes we employ.
There were countless quotes in the book that spoke to me including those listed below:
“What isn’t absurd is that we have an opportunity to connect our profession to the journey of educators across time who understood that when young people and their teachers engage together in pursuit of learning for life, they create an edu-ecological system that thrives even as it evolves.”
“Go back to your schools or districts and tomorrow, change something."
‘What we can control is what we choose to do more of, or less, in our learning spaces to give us the chance to notice children, to see their faces, hear their voices, find their strengths, and help them know their own value.”
“Equity provides resources so that educators can see all our children’s strengths.”
". . .learning must be flexible, open, and choice based in as many ways as possible."
". . .authentic, meaningful learning is less controlled by by adults and more reflective of learners who develop agency."
"When learning becomes timeless, it becomes authentically human, owned by learners."
"Learning is all about trust."
"As teachers become kidwatchers, they begin to break fears of what kids might do."
"When our educators come to embrace and own their own learning in a context of seeing themselves as designers, creators, and makers, it changes the game in how they approach working with learners."
". . only when the education sector embraces the discomfort of Bell Labs-like learning laboratories . . no tradition, structure, or procedure is held sacred and radical invention is valued. ."
"It's then our job to put the content into their (children/student) context."
"School" must become a space--both physical and virtual--where learning is a constant cocreation of teachers and students."
"Providing opportunities for genius to emerge is critical. . . ."
"What if, instead of trying to replicate procedures and structures that have lacked effectiveness, we were to explore how to identify multiple pathways to enrich learning through interesting user experiences that attract children rather than push them away. . ."
"We also must educate our young people to not take our democratic way of life for granted."
". . .learn to plan, test, research, and search for what they need as learners, building a sense of agency through their work."
"Kids today need the chance to design, create, and communicate, all highly desirable competencies in this century."
"The evolution of learning culture is the most critical work educators need to do inside schools today."
"Inclusivity creates a welcoming culture of care so that no one feels outside the community."
I have followed the authors of this book for years via conferences and social media. This book is a wonderful summary of all the great work they've done--it's an inspiring read that will definitely lead you to teach and serve children better.