Rebooting Education #edudreamer

@MrBrettClark 10 Comments

The reboot. It's one of the biggest things going in movies right now. It seems like a large chunk of the movies coming to a theater near you are the same ones that appeared in theaters or on TVs not that long ago.  From the new Batman Trilogy, The Amazing Spider-Man, and Total Recall to TV shows like The Smurfs, The A Team, and Dark Shadows.

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.

The Storyline

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!


  1. Brett,

    I really enjoyed your post. What a thoughtful reflection!

    If I could reboot education, I would start by changing minds and changing the physical landscape. By redesigning the classroom space, you naturally begin to redesign the way you plan and deliver.



    1. Erin,

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, I'm thinking more and more about how we use space in our schools. Also, as a person who does professional development for a living, I am thinking of ways to redesign the physical space I use with teachers.

      What are your thoughts on redesigning professional development space?


  2. Would love to make the learning space more inviting and less institutional. Would also like to change the schedule. Allow class time to be more flexible (an administrator's nightmare I'm sure).

    1. Kristen,

      Thank you for the comment! Wouldn't it be great if school schedule was more like edcamps? If kids could just pick the classes and times they needed to go to on any given day. If they needed to double up in Spanish, they could. If they wanted to start off their morning with physical education, they could.

      Yes, this would be a nightmare in large schools but it's okay to dream.

      However, we can provide this in our a certain degree. If a student can prove to us that he or she needs to work on another subject during our class, then we can allow that. Even though most schools won't make schedules flexible, we have to find ways to be flexible with our class time.

      Thank you for the comment!

  3. Great piece. Amusingly, my answer to how to reboot education is technology. Including a deep, systemic integration of technology as a core component – would provide students with the background skills and knowledge to not only be contributors to the global economy, but to become the innovators and entrepreneurs who drive it. Here are some of the ways in which making technology the core of education would benefit students and society:

  4. As an educator that changes everything practically every new school year I can appreciate this post! If I could reboot, I would:
    ~design the physical space to support the new 24/7 learning model
    ~try to get a caring patient progressive mentor for every apprehensive, reluctant or resistant educator (many of us who connect digitally already buy in what about the masses who aren't connecting?)
    ~work to create a home-school 2.0 community like @Joe_Mazza is creating
    ~incorporate innovation days like @stumpteacher does at his school
    ~redesign the schedule to move away from the factory model "move with the bell" system most secondary schools still use
    ~Lastly change the way change/progress occurs in school to a more organic inclusive model that engages all the stakeholders..

  5. The Blind Side is one of my favorite movies. Perhaps it is because the narrative focuses on helping a young man succeed.

    If I could reboot, I would put aside all my fears about how administrators view my activities and use my gut instincts and education to help my students achieve their goals.

  6. Brett,

    This summer has been one of regrouping, rereading, rethinking, reinventing and re-alizing that indeed the students need to drive what goes on in the classroom. I am going to reboot with the intention of having their learning be the central focus. This generation of learners deserves that from me and for their sake. My physical classroom is loaded with technogadgets that these digital savages understand and run. I need to make these tools for their success. Perhaps the largest reboot will be with my daily interactions and how I become a biology coach, rather than just a teacher.

    Thanks for more fuel for thought.

  7. Library is the only place for the students where they can do their homework or any assignment given by teachers more effectively and in a cool environment.