Friday, February 24, 2012

Will change really happen this time?

This short animation of a talk by Ken Robinson does a fairly good encapsulation of the challenges of K-12 education. What's interesting to me is that, for many years people who believed this way mostly spoke and wrote books for, well... each other.  Mainstream policy makers would see a guy like Ken  as a gadfly if not a complete crank.  Today discussions this radical (ADHD rant aside) are taking place in policy circles. And the tools for structural change (especially customization) are on the near horizon. Many voices are saying the time has finally arrived for the "complete retool" we've all discussed for decades.  We've thought this before.  Our old system, especially conventional U.S. high schools, have shown an amazing resilience.  I've been a part of many "school of the future" projects, from modest to mega, and the results of those years... well, it would be kind to call them mixed.  Those schools did some fantastic work, including innovative work, but today they mostly still have that basic high school structure: bell schedule, study halls, lunch period, classes where they have to "put" students who aren't going to benefit that much, stifling group pace, artificial academic tasks, disconnection between disciplines, labeling of students by type, in short the whole, sort-n-select factory shebang.