Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Know what I don't do?

Read Education blogs.
Well, hardly at all- once in a great while I delve in and see if I've missed something, but the bulk of the time I stay well clear. And here's why:

It's all the same.

It's much the same reason I don't take part in #edchat as much as I used to- it feels like people talking in circles about the same issues over and over. I can't remember the last time I saw any disruptive tech/ideas surface in one.
And what I strongly believe we need is disruptive ideas.

We've pushed incremental change for years- refining ideas and delivery and standards, but ultimately, we've not broken a lot of new ground. We haven't climbed many new mountains or discovered many new lands. We need to.

So I'm looking for new ground, and new tech, and new ideas that haven't been done before in education. Disruptive, difficult, complicated, fertile new ground.

See you there.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Comprehensive Education?

I've become increasingly bummed about what we've left behind in education.
We don't really do comprehensive education anymore. And I think it's a shame.
And while I (personally) would love to see sewing and welding come back into the curriculum, I understand that for many people (educators included) those days are past.

What I'm interested in is what I might call 21st century comprehensive education.
I'm envisioning a one semester course (at the High School level).
It works like this:
1. We start with basic principles of business and marketing.
2. We brainstorm ideas for tangible products.
3. We, using laser cutters and 3d printers, create prototypes of those products.
4. We revise and rework those prototypes into workable final products.
5. We create elevator pitch videos about our products.
6. We create Kickstarter accounts and promote products via Social Media
7. We investigate production-level sourcing for our products.
8. We evaluate what we did well or what might need refinement in our products & approaches.

What you're left with here is a comprehensive class that leaves students with a wide swath of skills. Everything gets covered, from English to Film production, Math and Accounting, Business law, and the like. Total cost to equip a classroom for that sort of course:
1. Computers ($500 x students)
2. Laser cutter (~$2000)
3. 3d Printers (~$900 x 3)
Total Cost = $10,000 (with some flexibility of course)

Worth it in every dimension.
If a student were both talented and motivated, it's possible they would pay for college or their first house. Even if a student's project doesn't go anywhere on Kickstarter, the experience of starting a business in High School would I think be a major benefit in later attempts.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Assembly Lines are Great for Cars...

...but not for students.

The idea that it takes each and ever student four years to get through High School is deeply flawed. The idea that every student needs to sit in a classroom for 990 hours a year is also flawed. And both of these flaws are based on the same mistake:
That all students are the same.

We know this isn't true.

We know this because we have ed plans. And 504's. And tutoring. And leveled classes. And AP classes. And night school. And summer school.
All things designed to put flexibility back into a rigid system.

Why don't we stop putting bandaids on this gaping wound, and address the problem itself:

The system needs to be based on flexibility.

Why don't we run things on a credit based system? You need (x) credits to graduate from High School. They need to be in the following distribution. If that takes you 5 years, that's just fine. If it takes you 2.5, that's ok too. If you'd rather take classes during the summer to speed things up, we'll offer those. If you want to take a semester off to do an internship, that's great; we might even grant you some credit.

Kids aren't all the same, and treating them like they all need the same schedule does them a disservice.