I couldn’t agree more about the importance of culture…but in the U.S. at least, it’s going to take a lot more than a few “talented teachers.” It’s going to require a major paradigm shift of the magnitude of the shift from the geocentric to the heliocentric model of the solar system. The paradigm that drives today’s public schools (at least in the U.S.) is Academic Achievement…a one-size-fits-all claim that all children “know and be able to do” the same things in the same way and at the same age. Proof of this achievement is, of course high scores on statistically invalid standardized tests based on the equally invalid premise that learning can be “measured.”
As long as the “success” of a student, a teacher, or a school is assessed alost entirely on test scores that do little but sort children into winners and losers, it will be incredibly difficult for the teachers who do see, hear, and make decisions based on the needs of individual students to meaningfully impact the overall culture of schools. A change in the culture must begin with a change in the very purpose of education.
The “culture” you speak about is one of the most important factors in effective learner-centered schools whose mission is the development of the whole child. The task of transforming the culture of public education must begin with transforming the beliefs of traditional teachers — the belief that learning requires teaching —and that it is the role of adult to “give” learners the information they need to “succeed.” Because that is the only type of “school” many of our teachers have experienced, it’s imperative to show them alternatives…to convince them that learners can be trusted with the responsibility of their own learning, and to let them see what can happen when children are “free to learn.”