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Oregon Needs to Step Up to the Future of Learning

Despite real progress toward student-centered education, Oregon has reached a juncture where it must refresh the vision and momentum of the past five years and direct greater encouragement and support to policy makers and practitioners for the work that still needs to be done.

In conjunction with the OBC Education Task Force, our Fellows, and others, we are exploring how such support might be marshaled, and what our role might be in that effort. At the very least, we believe that Oregon must develop a change management strategy to scale student-centered education and then support implementation of that strategy to win widespread cultural and institutional adoption of student-centered principles and practices. Such a strategy would build consensus on the urgency for change, and then create the conditions that enable institutions and practitioners to implement and sustain the change.

We’ll soon have more to report about these reflections, but in the meantime, it’s worth underscoring why this work is so urgently needed.

Learning Must Keep Pace with Broader Change

The world is changing. What our students learn and how they learn is changing as well. Formal education needs to keep up. As noted earlier in this site, the way schooling is structured and conducted has been based implicitly on a long outmoded industrial model. More often than not, this dominant model is tilted too much to the needs of institutions – and the adults who work in them – for efficiency, convenience, and capture or control of funding.

The focus has to shift to students: what they need and what works for them. And not just most of them, but all of them.


  • Our factory education model, in which students move along at the same pace and too often learn passively or superficially, is rapidly becoming a liability by failing to prepare learners sufficiently for the demands of work, life, and citizenship. There is ample evidence that students learn more and learn better if they are engaged, have ownership in the process, and can proceed at their own pace.
  • Schools as we’ve long known them command a diminishing monopoly on delivering education. The very concept of delivering education is under challenge as agency shifts increasingly to learners themselves. That trend is likely to accelerate as technology and alternative providers offer learners unprecedented options in both learning and credentialing, in many cases more effectively than traditional classrooms. Expanded options in learning and credentialing, both in and beyond the existing public education systems, will increasingly offer students better service, outcomes, and value.
  • With the growth in childhood poverty and populations traditionally under served by our education system, that system has both a moral and civic responsibility to do a better job of helping every child to realize his or her education potential. Tolerating a large portion of students falling by the wayside is no longer acceptable.

See the following pages for the vision we have for student-centered education, and—more particularly—student centered learning.

At the very least, Oregon must develop a change management strategy to scale student-centered education and then support implementation of that strategy.