FOCUS GROUP SUMMARY

#7 – Lifelong Community Learning Opportunities and Our School System

The Vision and Values Lifelong Community Learning Opportunities and Our School System Focus Group met virtually on September 23, with 32 participants attending the session. Future iQ introduced the format of discussion for the evening, the purpose being to explore the three questions below as they related to the topic of lifelong community learning opportunities and our school system.

Participants were randomly assigned to breakout groups of 5-8 and asked to report back to the large group. The following paper synthesizes participant notes and live discussion of these questions; it concludes with some initial insights on the role lifelong community learning opportunities and our school system may play in planning for the future of Falmouth.

1. What are the key things we are learning about this topic - from the surveys, background information, future trends, and Discussion Board comments?

  • The community of Falmouth highly values and promotes its public schools.
  • The pandemic and remote learning have greatly changed the entire landscape  of learning.
  • The schools are foundational for broadening lifelong learning; possibility to expand multi-generational learning through partnerships with other communities.
  • There is support for a ’60-year curriculum’; lifelong learning to support the 100-year life.
  • Connections can be made between the Library and schools; the library can be used to break down silos, foster collaboration and future dialogue between organizations.
  • Our teaching needs to keep up with climate change and technologies; it needs to reflect best practices (example Wonder Project)

2. What are the one or two important potential future-splitting decisions or issues facing Falmouth, related to this topic; and, what are the implications and trade-offs of these different future directions?

 *(Definition of a future-splitting decision or issue: Something that represents a fork in the road, where future outcomes are significantly shaped by the decision or direction)

  • Fork in the road is how we will choose to innovate with our education system, from young learners in early childhood, along different points of entry. How will the local level take cues from state leadership and how can we differentiate ourselves to include learners from young to old?
  • Future splitting question: what is the point of education in Falmouth? A public or private good? The current status is more of a private good, but what if we looked at it as a public good and provided for multiple learning tracts, not just college-prep.
  • What is the relationship between growth and the size/quality of schools – does Town growth necessarily mean growth in the school size? And does school size necessarily mean a decline in school quality?

3. With regards to this focus group topic, where is the future ‘sweet spot’ for Falmouth?

*(Definition of a sweet spot: An optimal point or combination of factors or qualities)

  • Department of Education at state level has made project-based learning a priority – this is key.
  • Sweet spot is to implement a model of learning that cultivates creativity and captures the wisdom of the community. We have retired people in the community that are a tremendous resource to our schools; promote mentorship activities; youth can help elders with technology.
  • Sweet spot would be to synergize programming with Portland. Falmouth is self-sufficient and this could help to add diversity to community education. We are siloed within our education system and need to collaborate and share programs.
  • Sweet spot is to eliminate barriers that keep Falmouth on a ‘college-level’ post high school trajectory. Develop hybrid options for learning to appeal to greater populations. 

Consultant’s Insights:

  • Lifelong learning can be a community pursuit; a laboratory of learning to solve community issues. An unintended peril of not taking this approach would be to end up in a silo or bubble.
  • This is an opportunity to examine an evolution in thinking about learning with respect to collective good vs. individual good. 
  • This is an opportunity for Falmouth to both leverage and nurture the relationship between adult and student learners in the community.
  • One of the grand challenges to the community is to employ creative thinking during the Vision and Values process. The process itself can make the difference for the community – the area of education is a prime example.

MORE INFORMATION​

For more information about the Town of Falmouth Vision and Values project, please contact:

David Beurle, CEO
Future iQ
Phone: (612) 757-9190
david@future-iq.com

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