Rethinking Learning
conversations about the future of teaching and learning
Barbara Bray
be creative, innovate, take risks, unlearn to learn
Oakland, CA

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Disrupting Schools amid a Revolution
By Barbara Bray    December 17, 2009 -- 04:27 PM

It seems like everything is changing. Weíre in the middle of a revolution and many donít know it. There are many people that want to continue the status quo. So what is the status quo?

A top-down system where teachers teach the set agenda with standards, tests, and text books. Each teacher is assigned a classroom where they usually close the door and teach in isolation. Schools start at 8am and end at 3pm. It is rare that the schools are used before or after schools because of less funding. Students sit in rows, answer questions that are asked of them by the teacher, write papers that only the teacher reads, and attend a school that may not have all the classes they need to meet their requirements for graduation.

Does this sound like your school? Are you okay with this system?

We are in a digital revolution that is impacting businesses, government, families, schools, everything.  I am reading the Laws of Disruption by Larry Downes. From the front flap:

"While digital life races ahead, the rest of our life, from law to business, struggles to keep up. Business strategies, lawyers, judges, regulators, and consumers have all been left behind, scratching their heads, frantically trying to figure out what they can and canít do. Some want to bring innovation to a standstill (or at least to slow it down) through lawsuits and regulation so they can catch their breath. Others forge madly ahead, legal consequences be damned."

I read the Outliers and other books about success. Schools are setup for students to follow not lead. How do we prepare leaders when our system is not setup for that? How early do you teach leadership skills?

Think about Kindergarten where students learn how to sit quietly at their desks, follow each other in a straight line, and to draw within the lines. It seems like we are taking all the fun out of learning. We're taking the creativity out of school right from the beginning. I believe that young students learn alot more from play than teaching rote skills. How do we expect our students to become excited about school if they cannot talk, work together, be creative, or use the tools they use everyday: computers, cell phones, and iPods.

Schools of the future will be different because our students will demand it.  Watch the news and you witness schools closing all over the place. Why? Because we are set up as a supply and demand system where parents look for alternatives to meet their students' needs. For those families that cannot afford anything but the public school assigned to them, students give up or score poorly on tests. The best teachers are in the better schools. I'm a public school advocate but see the writing on the wall. Our teachers need help. Our kids need help. Things have to change soon. The drop out rate is growing and we cannot afford to lose one more child.

I believe all kids are gifted but we don't give many of them a chance. It's time to shake up the system and really change it - radically. It's time for all of us to not just blame the school, the teachers, or the students anymore. The whole system is broken and all of us need to work together to make it work.

Categories: "Technology" "Conversations" "Economy" "Revolution" "Disruption" "21st Century Learning" "Status Quo"

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