The drive

Hands up if you’ve ever wondered what goes on in the minds of the drivers on the road around you?

Recent commutes to school and to shopping feel more like scenes out of a Mad Max movie, except with snow storms instead of sand storms. Vehicles speeding, tailgating, weaving, cutting one another off, and then there were some drivers who provided visual proof that not all birds have flown south this winter. However, none of this reflects anything close to the spirit of kindness and giving this season is supposed to celebrate.

Lately, a combination of work-life/Geo-political stress, an over-abundance of festivities/holiday cheeriness, and wintry weather have made people significantly more interesting. And by interesting, I mean disagreeable, distracted and sometimes dangerous. Being easily distracted myself, I started thinking about self-driving cars and how an autonomous vehicle would handle this time of year?¹

Then came a realization that our current cohort of elementary students could be among the first to have self-driving cars by the time they get their driver’s licences. Will this be a good thing or will a Neo-Luddite backlash prevent this particular advancement in technology from coming? What about education? Could classrooms become more autonomous too?

Why hasn’t all of this happened sooner when it could be better and safer for everyone? Are there Edu-Luddites at work trying to preserve exhausted and traditional systems? As education ploughs into this century, will it keep pace with a modern world that is changing at the speed of learning? Will broke down dogmas of teach, test, report, and repeat finally be traded-in, repaired, or left on the side of the road? Is this why NASCAR is so popular?

Getting somewhere

Speaking of NASCAR, I wondered whether everyone travelling at the same rate was a good idea. Did you know there is something called a restrictor-plate? Isn’t that what’s happening in our classrooms already? Students race through their learning based on birth years, circling the track over and over until all of their age appropriate laps are completed, and then they’re towed or driven off at the end of Grade 12.

But what if they need to stop along the way? Are there pit-stops/provisions in place to support students who do not fit the factory learning model or who prefer a different pace? I get that special and alternative education options are already available, but what if more students need them and they are not available? Think of a racer who needs tires and gas at a pit-stop, but only being able to choose one. It’s only a matter of time before frustration and failure become the outcomes.

In my next post I want to continue driving home this theme, but will shift gears to consider where we and our students are heading. Please read my companion piece The destination to continue the journey.

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed it. Please share and take time to comment.

1. Did you know that Tesla’s autonomous vehicles are logging over a million miles of data per day?

Updated: January 8, 2018 — 1:48 pm

The Author

Will Gourley

Grade 5 lead learner and SERT at Adrienne Clarkson PS in the YRDSB. Focused on disruptive, divergent, and modern learning. Member of the global TED-Ed(Club) movement, 1 of 90 TED Ed Innovative Educators, and Global Math Project Ambassador. Twitter @willgourley Proudly blogging here and at

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