Thursday, February 1, 2007

What we need is a BHAG.

The top-down nature of educational reform is a bad model. When reform is pushed upon schools by government agencies and Acts and laws, problems occur and resistance is the natural by-product.

Recently, my Bloglines account has been filling up with posts from some very great minds writing about this very topic. Where change should originate is from those of us here in the trenches, and that is what I am seeing more so than from the push from above. Although we are held accountable for our performance on state and national tests, the real "revolution" in educational philosophy and practice is coming from the rogue teachers who have embraced what Chris Lehmann, David Warlick and Scott McLoed have been talking about for a while, and they call it School 2.0.

Recently, speaking of McLoed, I came across this post on Dangerously Irrelevant concerning what that reform might be. Is it a story that leads us in a direction towards the 21st Century? Or should it be more of an idea or goal, something McLoed calls a BHAG, a big, hairy, bodacious goal. While I might have trouble with the combination of those adjectives in visualizing people (especially in European beach scenes), using such words to describe elements of change in education is exciting.

What I see the BHAG being for whatever we want to call it (School 2.0 is the most ubiquitous), this change must include features such as:

  1. Individual access to technology, preferably wireless internet connections for every student that passes through a school, as well as every faculty member. What that piece of technology is, one cannot say. Laptops, iPhones, etc.
  2. A huge shift in teacher confidence with technology, which would mean a huge shift in the practice of teacher training programs for new teachers and established teachers alike. What I see as the major stumbling block is a statement I have blogged about before that appeared in Christian Long's Future of Learning Manifesto: Get Comfy with the questions. Teachers need to be walked through the process of giving up control to harness the learning, becoming designers and delegators, instead of speakers and dictators.
  3. Parental education regarding what their child is capable of--in a positive light. Too much negative information about internet security is bandied about in the current media. The BHAG needs to include a push for parental involvement in education on a level that has been heretofore unseen.
When this does come to fruition, I can only hope that it stays as a movement that is driven by genuine care for the students of tomorrow, and not by a need for comparative analysis between nations.

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