|Image created by Andrew T. Garcia @berkshirecat|
Public Education should probably be renamed Public Schooling. I have no reservations saying that. Because Schooling is what we do. It is a system, with standards and standardized ways of doing things. Education is a corollary benefit for some, maybe. My entire master's thesis written more than a decade ago dealt with this problem. In a nutshell, my question (for middle school kids) was: 'Is School Real?'. I was attempting to get at whether school and a kid's real world have anything in common. The lengthy title of the thesis was: Schooling and student perceptions: Understanding meaning and relevance of 'the place called school' in the lives of middle school students. Turns out that students saw a connection in the cafeteria, at recess, sometimes in PE, Music or Industrial Arts and in the hallways. Everyplace else in school required them to play a role-to 'check out' from their real world; to grin and bear it.
This was 11 years ago. Before Apple invented the i-pod. Before MySpace, Friendster and Facebook. Before social networking. Before Xbox, Wii, World of Warcraft. Before cell phones with apps and wireless everything. So, 4 years ago, when I saw all these things that evolved quickly and were here to stay, I began to realize that the Schooling System was being left in the dust. I began reading Godin. His sentiments fit what I saw in Education as a problem. I began writing about it. Don't know if all the ranting did any good but in the last 4 years others were thinking the same thing. Thus, we now have Classroom 2.0 where Educators interested in using technology for change can share ideas. We have Thomas Friedman urging us that the World is Flat and we better wake up. We have Daniel Pink saying the same only different--we must become Artists and Creators in the Future because the routine jobs will be left to robots or will be outsourced. There is a modest and growing group of Educators using Twitter to advance change and share information about better ways forward. And now we have State Department's of Education recognizing that, indeed, there is something new afoot and that kids are growing up different (digitally, creatively, expressively).
This something has been termed '21st Century Skills'. Standardizing and then prescribing those skills will not work because the new way is not about memorization and testing, it is a way of BEING. The whole manner in which young people go about getting things done has changed. And Public Schooling needs to change, now, too. For Real. No more pretend change. No more going through the motions.
So Godin got me started and he still inspires me to think and do and change and grow. With Linchpin, his latest book, he offers a solid premise as to WHY we are where we are in Education. He doesn't blame good teachers or even good administrators. He blames the Schooling System. But he does challenge teachers (YOU) to change things, to be extraordinary, indispensable. I think, if you're a teacher now, that means leading by example (using new tools, creating, connecting, collaborating) and fighting to change the current Educational Paradigm of schooling.