“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” – John Dewey
We’ve all used the phrase lifelong learner before. It’s a buzz word that I hear whenever I interview for a teaching position. Candidates know that they need to say that they are lifelong learners. Deep down, I think that most educators are lifelong learners. For most of us, we enjoy the process of learning.
We also constantly talk about how we must prepare students. We spend our time “preparing” third grade students for fourth grade. We “prepare” our elementary students for middle school and our high school students for college and career. We constantly focus on what students will need to do at some distant point in the future rather than focusing on what students can currently do right now.
Dewey is correct in that education is not about preparation but rather what we can do with students right now. I love when a student takes part in something that is meaningful to them right now. There is no need to wait. We don’t need to prepare students for what’s to come later. We need to let students live and learn in the moment.