Monday, November 22, 2010

#blog4reform

today many people across the globe who are interested in educational reforms are writing about it as part of the #blog4reform day. i figured i would jettison my 2 cents worth out into the blogosphere and see if i could start some conversation of my own.
before we begin to talk about reform though, we need to ask ourselves "what is the purpose of education?" i think we would have many different opinions and answers to that question. is the purpose of education to prepare students for jobs? to be good citizens? so that they will be informed? there are as many answers to the question as there are ways to reform education. we need to start with that.
when we talk about reforming education, are we really talking about reforming schools? because "education" is in the process of a makeover already. i can learn about anything with access to a computer. want to know how to build a treehouse? there are videos and plans online. need to learn a foreign language? there are programs available that can help you do just that. education is changing even as we speak. schools should echo those changes that are already taking place.
so after we figure out the purpose of education we figure out how to redesign schools around our answer. we keep in mind the architectural principle that form follows function and we begin to see what schools should look like. if schools are meant to prepare people for jobs then we design curriculum that prepares students for the jobs that they will have in the future. we get rid of the vestiges of the industrial age. no bells. a flexible schedule. no seat time requirements. we focus on creativity. we focus on teamwork. we focus on production. we use data to inform our decisions. we build relationships.
if the purpose of education is to make better citizens, we concentrate on civic education, real world solutions for real world problems. we build schools that are problem based schools and we strive to make our students expert problem solvers. they understand their place in the world and realize that superman isn't coming to save us. they realize that it is up to them to make the world a better place. we make character education a big part of what schools do and we talk about what it means to be a citizen of the world.
if the purpose of school is to inform citizens then we spend lots of time looking at information and trying to decide what that information means. we scour the news, we learn historical concepts, we look for trends in data and we push students to become lifelong learners in their search for knowledge. we teach them what it means to be thinkers and how to dissect arguments and how to search for truth.
so i don't know exactly what the school of the future looks like but i do know some of the important ideas for those schools to focus on. i do know where to begin.

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