What if we could "reboot" our schools? What would we change?
The Star of the Show
The first thing I would change is who is the star of the show. Think about every movie made about education. Who does the movie focus on? From Stand and Deliver to The Ron Clark Story, the teacher is the center of the story. If we are going to reboot education it must start with recasting our students into the lead roles.
How about having your students run open house this year instead of you? Are we afraid what they might say to a room full of parents? Are we afraid we might actually have a room full of parents at open house if we involve their children in the event?
Here's a question I think we need to ask ourselves: who is my classroom a reflection of? Is it a reflection of me, my subject(s), or my students? I would dare that most classrooms are a reflections of the teacher and his/her subject before it's a reflection of the students who fill it.
If I could, I'd love to start off each year with an empty classroom and a budget. Then spend the first few days sitting on the floor with my new students designing our classroom. Once we worked out all the details we would go out and purchase all of the furniture and technology needed for our classroom. Think about all of the great learning that would take place if we could start off our year like that.
The Special Effects
One of the biggest advantages movie makers of today have is the use of technology in their productions. There are many movies being made today that could have never been made without today's technology. On the flip side of that, we have all seen that movie that just used special effects because they could and it ended up taking away from the story. (Yes I'm looking at you 3D technology.)
We simply can not use technology just for the sake of using technology. This is becoming one of the hardest things for schools to resist. There is a tremendous amount of pressure to use technology in the classroom. Unfortunately, a large portion of the technology tools being used in schools are too pricy, quickly outdated, and don't really add anything to the classroom.
As my friend Nicholas Provenzano recently put it in a blog post, an ed-tech leader must be able to look beyond the bells and whistles. The technology has got to add value to the classroom. What's being done in the classroom is much more important that what it's being done with. If all we ever do is change the tool but never change the teaching there is no difference between the two classrooms below.
When setting out to reboot a movie franchise there must be a change in how the story is told. Or else there is no point in redoing the movie. If the Christopher Nolan Batman movies were just like the Tim Burton Batman movies, what would be the point? Sure the special effects would be better, but nothing else.
I recently participated in a Google+ hangout with some awesome educators. We were learning about and discussing Anastasis Academy. One of the new teachers joining their staff, Summer Howarth spoke about how school has become very predictable. It really struck a chord with me. It made me ask myself, how is school different now from when I was a student?
I know that's nothing new. We all know that school has essentially been the same for a very long time but I guess with summer coming to a close it got me thinking about what we could do differently. We have got to make some changes to the script. We can not continue to do school as we have always done it. What was good enough for grandma and grandpa is not good enough for the students we have today. It's time we changed the storyline.
Hit the comment section!
A couple of thoughts to consider for the comment section:
1) As summer comes to a close, how are you going to change the storyline?
2) If you could "reboot" education, what changes would you make?
Of course all comments are welcome!