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Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

Will Richardson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (212 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $2.99

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Book Description

Traditional educators, classrooms, and brick-and-mortar schools are no longer necessary to access information. Instead, things like blogs and wikis, as well as remote collaborations and an emphasis on 'critical thinking' skills are the coins of the realm in this new kingdom. Yet the national dialogue on education reform focuses on using technology to update the traditional education model, failing to reassess the fundamental design on which it is built.

In 'Why School?,' educator, author, parent and blogger Will Richardson challenges traditional thinking about education — questioning whether it still holds value in its current form. How can schools adjust to this new age? Or students? Or parents? In this provocative read, Richardson provides an in-depth look at how connected educators are beginning to change their classroom practice. Ultimately, 'Why School?' serves as a starting point for the important conversations around real school reforms that must ensue, offering a bold plan for rethinking how we teach our kids, and the consequences if we don't.

Editorial Reviews


"Why School? How Education Must Change When Learning and Information are Everywhere is mandatory reading for anyone who cares about the education of their children. It is the perfect jumping off point for anyone interested in beginning or continuing a conversation on the long overdue changes that are schools need to undergo in order to provide a relevant learning experience for our students." ~Patrick Larkin, Assistant Sup. for Learning, Burlington (MA) Public Schools

"As a teacher, father, and educational visionary, Will Richardson tears down the walls around the classroom and rethinks what schools can and should be. Listen to him. Learn from him." ~Jeff Jarvis, Author, What Would Google Do?

"Will Richardson beautifully and disturbingly captures the new reality of learning. Why School? shows us an exciting future unfolding before our very eyes, and leaves you breathless about what to do about it! ~Michael Fullan, Professor Emeritus, OISE/University of Toronto

"A must read for parents! Why School? is the right text to help frame important conversations between parents and schools, students and teachers, teachers and administrators, school districts and communities. Right Question .....Right Time!" ~Lisa Brady, Superintendent, Dobbs Ferry (NY) Schools

"Written by a parent, an educator, and a teacher of teachers, Why School? offers a set of useful tools for thinking about the fundamental and crucial question posed by the very title of this book". ~Howard Rheingold, Author, Net Smart

"Why School offers bigger dreams for the networked age, where we use new technologies to envision and design entirely new models of teaching and learning, where we seek to fulfill human potential rather than covering a dusty curriculum." ~Justin Reich, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Product Details

  • File Size: 536 KB
  • Print Length: 51 pages
  • Publisher: TED Conferences (September 10, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00998J5YQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,441 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
74 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very different (and needed) vision for schooling September 13, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Why School? is a superb summary of why schools need to be different. We now live in a world where the rule is abundance, not scarcity. Where teachers are from all around the world, not just in those buildings down the street. Where students can make and do and share, not just sit passively and regurgitate.

There are lots of insights in this short text. I read the entire book in a sitting of an hour or two. But the ideas within will last much, much longer...

A few quotes to whet your appetite:

1. "let's scrap open-book tests, zoom past open-phone tests asking Googleable questions, and advance to open-network tests that measure not just if kids answer a question well, but how literate they are at discerning good information from bad and tapping into the experts and networks that can inform those answers. This is how they'll take the real-life information and knowledge tests that come their way, and it would tell us much more about our children's preparedness for a world of abundance."

2. "Discovering the curriculum changes the teacher's role in the classroom. It becomes less about how well the teacher develops the lesson plan and what that teacher knows (though those ingredients are still important). Instead, they must inspire students to pursue their own interests in the context of the subject matter. Teachers need to be great at asking questions and astute at managing the different paths to learning that each child creates. They must guide students to pursue projects of value and help them connect their interests to the required standards. And they have to be participants and models in the learning process."

3. "'How do your teachers learn?' Most answers I get follow along traditional lines: 'They go to conferences.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Clear Vision Indeed October 9, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere by Will Richardson

"Why School?" is an inspirational plea to a new vision of education that incorporates tools of learning that are all around us. The author's contention is that the current educational system does not adequately provide what our kids need to know and thus doing school "differently" is necessary. Educator, blogger and author Will Richardson, provides the reader with a brief different vision of doing school. This stimulating brief 51-page book is broken out into two main parts: Part I: Old School and Part II: New School.

1. Brief and to the point.
2. An important topic, a "different" education.
3. A brief book that is intended to inspire and whet your appetite. Mission accomplished.
4. The impact of abundance of information and how it relates to education.
5. A look at the old educational model and why it fails in preparing children for future success in a fast-changing world.
6. A policy paper by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) that lists the new set of 21st-century literacies for all readers and writers.
7. The contrast between the two very different visions for educational change. The first is about doing what we currently do "better". The second requires a fundamental revision of the value of school and the roles of teachers and classrooms.
8. Interesting and thought-provoking arguments, "What they don't tell you, by the way, is that we just looked at test results from U.S. kids living in high-income homes, we would be first in the world in just about every category. Our scores reflect our very deep issues with poverty, not inherent problems with schools."
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Needs more data April 15, 2013
By Mec
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The author's thesis is that education should be more open-ended: students should be more involved in choosing their goals; school work should require more skills than "look up facts on the Interent"; and, underneath it all, school should be arranged to bring out more engagement and commitment in students.

I like these ideas, but this essay did not support them well. It's long on rhetoric, tagging the approaches the author doesn't favor with negative descriptions and the approaches the author does favor with positive descriptions. And it's short on data. It's even short on anecdotes: there are only a handful of stories about students learning the "new way" and their projects. And the first, longest such story is about a student learning to play Minecraft -- that's not very appealing!

The thesis is fine, but more data, please.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking December 19, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have a large interest in education and what works and what doesn't. This gives some very thought provoking information and in a short (60 pages or so) essay style of writing. My only issue with it was that his basis of his studies and thoughts were for advanced placement type students or others of this ilk. Probably great for them, but what about LD and children in poverty? Not going to work well for them. Read some of the other books on how children learn and how to ecducate them. We are using a 200 year old model without much thought to today's technology and all the tools available to our children. Use the resources available and not just keep doing the same thing over and over again.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This book should raise lots of questions about our schools
The education system in America is severely hampered by over testing. Today's children are not becoming creative, independent problem solvers, but are learning how to take tests. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Eric
5.0 out of 5 stars A succinct & pithy scream for action
If you care about education today, you need to read this book and think deeply about the issues Will raises. His vision is compelling.
Published 1 month ago by Matthewm1970
5.0 out of 5 stars special Ed teacher
This book explains how education must change to make our children of the future better independent learners in the real world I agree with what the author is saying in the fact... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Rachel Mccaffrey
4.0 out of 5 stars None
the guidelines are flawed. it is very probable that a young person could be smarter n give a better review than n older n dummer person. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Javier Thome
5.0 out of 5 stars Why School? Reflection
A very powerful argument for pushing for change in our current, test-centered educational system! A compelling & quick read. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars An Insightful Read
A detailed discussion of why our education systems are severely lacking, and just how badly they are preparing our children for their own futures. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars great book about education
It really help me to think about foundation of old school education system and learning processing, when there are much more learning and discussion room available nowadays. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Zhuangfang Yi
5.0 out of 5 stars a clarion call for common sense
Richardson is absolutely fight in his analysis that places us in a period of abundance of information, not scarcity, and this demands that we change education. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Johannes Climacus
5.0 out of 5 stars great read for any educator
I would recommend this book to any educator that has become frustrated with the current educational system. Read more
Published 7 months ago by MsE
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very thought provoking!
Published 7 months ago by Heather Jarrett
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More About the Author

A parent of two teen-agers, Will Richardson has spent the last dozen years developing an international reputation as a leading thinker and writer about the intersection of social online learning networks and education. He was one of a handful of original education bloggers ( and his work has appeared in numerous journals, newspapers, and magazines such as Ed Leadership, District Administration, Education Week, The New York Times and English Journal. He is an outspoken advocate for change in schools and classrooms in the context of the diverse new learning opportunities that the Web and other technologies now offer.

Will has authored four books, most recently Why School? How Education Must Change When Learning and Information are Everywhere (September, 2012) published by TED books and based on his most recent TEDx talk in Melbourne, Australia. Why School? is now the #1 best-selling TED book ever. In total, his books have sold over 150,000 copies worldwide.

A former public school educator of 22 years, Will is a co-founder of Modern Learner Media which is dedicated to helping parents ( and policy makers develop new contexts for new conversations around education. He also co-founded Powerful Learning Practice (, a unique professional development program that has mentored over 10,000 teachers around the world in the last six years. Over the past eight years, he has spoken to tens of thousands of educators in over a dozen countries about the merits of online learning networks for personal and professional growth.

Will lives in rural New Jersey with his wife Wendy and his children Tess and Tucker.


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