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Mental Models

“Mental models are deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures or images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action” (Senge, 2006, p. 8).

Mental models are not something new. This article was written in 1999.

What pictures do we have of a school, a teacher, or an educational expert? We can begin by asking what purpose school serves in the 21st Century. Are the purposes of the 21st Century at cross purposes with the school model which, in its current incarnation, is only about 50 years old?

If schools educate using a 19th Century model, what does that say about recent ‘reforms’ undertaken in education?

Consider the following example of a mental model. What is a library? In the 21st Century, do the box stores with their coffee shops and chairs qualify?

Why do we have schools? What purposes do they serve in the 21st Century? Does the existing model meet contemporary needs?

We need to reflect upon and converse about the mental models we hold of students, educators, parents, school as a place, leadership, knowledge, technology, and expertise.


About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school. My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. In teaching and leanring, I am a boundary-crosser who understands moving ahead is a leap of faith. Teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, boundary-crosser, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

6 responses »

  1. Excellent questions Ivon. I think that all education reform has to start with questions just as you have listed. One of my questions that I think about is that if we were to design a school from scratch, what would the design be? Your question on the “library” sparked that.

    We also have to look at things that we consider work “now” for kids. Will they work for their future?

    Thanks for your thought provoking questions. Looking forward to reading more.

  2. Pingback: 21st Century Renaissance People | Teacher as Transformer

  3. I am enjoying getting to know your blog. You brought up some interesting points for me to ponder. I am retired, and spend quite a bit of time “home schooling myself” using the web. I entered first grade in 1955. I found a bit of history to add to your blog post here. I live in an area of North Carolina that has 11 colleges and universities. I moved here a few years ago. Our state claims the most PhD’s. The other night I listened to the first gubernatorial debate for 2012. They were discussing education. I was shocked to learn that young adults are graduating with only a fourth grade reading level. How on earth could this happen?

  4. Pingback: The Story of American Public Education « realmanure

    • I enjoyed visiting your blog and reading the whole post. Continue to “home school” with me as we learn together blending the traditional and contemporary. As a community, I believe we can all make a difference in education and for the future.

      • I agree, it is necessary to balance the old with the new. I enjoy your reading your blog, and look forward hearing more about what you have to say. I am gaining a panoramic view! We can make a difference. Community is where it starts.

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