Senge's talk drew about 200 principals, teachers, administrators, business people and community leaders Jan. 23 at the Marshall Campus, and others streamed the presentation live.
View his presentation online or on Channel 28 Mondays through Thursdays at 10 a.m. and Tuesdays through Thursdays at 6:30 p.m., or on demand.
Senge, a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and founding chairman of the Society for Organizational Learning, reminded the audience that public schools were designed in the 1800s to prepare children to work in factories.
The regimented and fragmented approach to school mirrored the factory environment, right down to the bell on the wall, but did little to reflect the holistic and integrated way that children learn and experience the world, he said. Children, for example, don’t just learn math and then learn reading: The two are integrated.
Senge touched on work in the United States — including that of retired Wilson High School math teacher Diana Fisher — and other countries to redesign schools and instruction to draw out students’ innate intelligence through more discussion, modeling and collaboration with their teachers and each other.
Collaboration is key
He described the need for teachers to have more time to collaborate with each other about their students and to work in an environment where they are continuously learning and improving their practice.
Senge acknowledged the barriers to change — from the pressures to maintain the status quo to funding — but encouraged the audience to break through them.
“What’s absolutely vital … is a sense of hope and possibility,” he said. “I have had this rare opportunity to watch extraordinary experiments in schools where kids are immersed in interdependence and immersed in understanding themselves as social beings.”
Senge's talk was part of the PPS Sustainability Lecture Series. He waived his speaking fee for PPS.
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