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You Say You Want a Revolution?

Scott wrote a very short post yesterday that just won’t exit from my warped little mind.

I think it is becoming increasingly clear that our current system of education is going to go away. There are simply too many societal pressures and alternative paradigms for it to continue to exist in its current form.

The only question, then, is: How long are we going to thrash around before we die?*

I would like very much to believe that Scott’s right and that the answer to his question is “not long”.

However, I don’t think it’s at all clear that our current system of education is going away.

In fact, No Child Left Behind, the 800-pound gorilla of education reform during this decade, only acts to further cement our traditional educational structure in place.

The all-testing-all-the-time philosophy of NCLB has narrowed the curriculums of most schools down to reading and math instruction, with only a little science (largely in the form of memorizing facts) now being included.

In addition, it also reinforces the teacher-as-dispenser-of-knowledge model of instruction by putting every bit of the responsibility for student learning on the school.

While I do see a number of “alternative paradigms” to the current system being discussed, it’s often happening at events like EduCon among groups of very smart educators with very little direct power to alter things.

And the “alternatives” most often presented by politicians and press as examples of “reform”, programs like KIPP and Advanced Placement, are only very small variations on the exact same classroom structure we’ve been using for more than 100 years.

I also don’t see a lot of “societal pressures” for changing things.

Too many people have warm fuzzy feelings for their memory of K12 education, and make no connection between the radical ways in which the world at large has changed it’s approach to learning and communicating and our traditional system for educating children.

No, as much as I would like to believe it’s coming, I just don’t see any radical, tear-up-the-floorboards-and-start-over educational revolutions coming soon.

* Sorry for printing the whole thing, Scott. Also, everyone please know that this rant is based on the assumption that, when he says “we die”, Scott’s using the “royal we” and referencing the current system of education in which many of us are deeply involved. :-)

2 Comments

  1. Mark

    This is where a massive financial crisis can help in a convoluted way: if we can’t afford the school system we’ve got, then maybe we’ll be forced to make a radical change to the way we do school here in the USA.

  2. ssedro

    I read Scott’s post last night and like you, I was still thinking about it, so I appreciate your response. Unfortunately, I think your assessment is correct. Forces DO seem to be cementing this archaic system in place even as it becomes increasingly irrelevant. And those of us who read blogs are in danger of thinking far more people are with us, rather than recognizing that the majority of the people haven’t even heard our argument.

    Thanks for your perspective. I’m glad you posted it.

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