Pop!Tech is one of those conferences that annually brings together a wide variety of interesting people to discuss the problems of society and perhaps suggest some paths to solving them.

The 2007 meeting is coming up next month and I certainly can’t afford the $3500 registration fee so it’s great that they publish the presentations as Creative Commons licensed podcasts.

One of those, a terrific panel discussion on education reform from 2006, this week popped to the top of my listening list. All of the speakers in the session have some great points to make and stories to tell.

However, a core concept about how cultural changes, specifically the open source movement, will impact teaching and learning, was beautifully summarized by one panelist.

…we have to get out of our romanticized notion of what education is – the kids carrying the textbooks on their way to school, in class, enjoying themselves with the teacher at the front imparting the wisdom of the world – and get with the program. Because the world’s changing and we better do it fast or we’re screwed.

The moderator goes on to point out the massive disconnect between what is being discussed here and they way educational “progress” is reported in the media, with an almost total emphasis on test scores.

Another panelist, Bobbi Kurshan from Curriki, the open source textbook project, follows with a brilliant point that hasn’t been emphasized nearly enough.

The No Child Left Behind Act has completely stopped innovation in education.

You can quibble with whether creativity has been “completely” sucked out of the classroom, but no one can say that NCLB isn’t working hard to get us to 100% in that area.

I wish they had better identified the people speaking but, other than that, this program is well worth 45 minutes of your time.

education, reform, open source, curriki