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A very different (and needed) vision for schooling
on September 13, 2012
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.' 'They take after-school workshops.' 'They read books.' They see their teachers' learning as an event, not an ongoing process."
4. "We saved every bit of paper that came home in the Friday Folders that year, and they grew to a three-foot-high stack in the corner of our bedroom. It was an impressive collection of stuff that my kids never again looked at once it was added to the stack. Countless hours spent filling in those worksheet blanks, working those test problems, finishing off those projects, and Tess and Tucker had literally zero investment in any of it after their grades and our signatures were in place. Zero."
5. "I'd articulate the shift to teachers like this: Don't teach my child science; instead, teach my child how to learn science -- or history or math or music. With as many resources as they have available to them today (not to mention what they'll have tomorrow), kids had better know how."
Make school different. Start by reading this book. I've already ordered multiple copies as gifts for colleagues, friends, and family members, with plans to expand the circle even further. If you like this book - and you will - do the same for your own circles. And then start talking with each other about what school could (and should) be.
[Now if I only could get legislators to read this!]