In education, we need to reimagine the notion of success. So much of our understanding about success can be framed around the achievement of an arbitrary benchmark, a number, a grade, certification and accreditation, a qualification. We would do better (on the whole) to help our learners to understand that the more we connect these isolated attainments to an ongoing process of development and improvement in the pursuit of excellence, the more we might come to realise that we have a chance to become the best version of ourselves that we possibly can be.
So, there's growth and that means how much progress we make in gaining competency. There's motivation, which means how confident we are in exercising this competency once we have it. There's engagement, which is about a disposition toward further growth in competency. There's achievement, which means how successful we are in applying our competency. And then there's qualification, which means how that competency is validated and accredited externally.
So if we put together growth, motivation, engagement, achievement and qualification, we can see that all of these concepts are connected with each other intimately. Inherent in this is the plotting, tracking and measurement of a person's progress according to growth in mastery of their competencies, organisation of their life around these competencies, and a sense of their thriving in the world through these competencies. That means that when we're trying to measure the success of the whole of learning, it comes down to asking two questions about those essential qualities of adaptive expertise and self-efficacy.
Are we committed to becoming the best version of ourselves that we can be?
We will keep growing in a lifetime of learning and unlearning where we focus on the pathway to excellence, not just a single number, and certainly not the illusion of a perfection that was never meant for us to experience. At the end of the day, our success will be more properly and humanely defined by this progress in our character and competencies and wellness than it is by the aggregation of trophies, badges and certificates, although such things do help us track our record of achievement along the way.
Are we committed to thriving in a time of change?
We will thrive when we realise that there is a moral purpose for our lives that pertains to the way in which we locate and situate ourselves in our world with respect for the other and ourselves. This world is not there to be taken or conquered. It is not there to be owned as a possession forever. It is our responsibility, therefore, to consider our impact, our impact on our planet, and the way in which we educate our children to understand how they can thrive in a world should not be damaged by us.This is because the whole of learning is about the journey from me to you to us, one that always starts with belonging and, as my colleague Adriano Di Prato would say, is propelled by a deep consciousness of "the other".
Are we committed to preparing our students to thrive?
Finally, we will also thrive when we align our practice to our practice. We will need to design and deliver for our students a research-driven and evidence-based whole school framework for education that promotes student voice, agency and identity and which is organised around the attainment of an agreed set of graduate outcomes that in themselves constitute the community’s vision for thriving.