Schooling, Education and The Way Forward

Image created by Andrew T. Garcia @berkshirecat
Seth Godin got me blogging about 4 years ago. Though his rants relate to marketing and business, what he had to say had relevance in my field: Education. His sentences were direct, pithy and always filled with a sense of urgency, in a 'take it or leave it' kind of way. Good stuff and he's still at it. If I'm stuck finding something to write about, a little reading of Godin will start the juices flowing. One thought leads to another and then I just HAVE to write. That would be my advice to anyone stuck trying to write anything (a blog post, a memo, a short story)-read something related to what you want to write about. Or, if you are interested in change and not in maintaining the status quo, just read Seth Godin.

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.

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1 comment :

David Truss said...

You just inspired me to buy Linchpin!
Although he didn't inspire me to start blogging (4 years ago), Seth Godin was one of the first people I put into my RSS Reader.

I love your point about kids being disengaged with what Clay Burell calls 'schooliness' even "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."

I made a comment on my own blog recently that:
I have a hard time seeing technology today as ‘creating more lazy students’ because I don’t see many students today that are more lazy than I was. I was a disengaged, often bored, student. Does technology create a distraction… YES, a huge distraction that can be hard to compete with....

But it's not the distractions that are the problem, it's that school-as-it-is-designed invites distraction. It just isn't compelling enough!

This is a great call to action for the people who have the most to gain and the most power to make a difference... EDUCATORS!

Thanks for the inspiration!