Is School 2.0 the Wrong Conversation?

My only consolation, at this moment, is that it's one hour later where I live than it is right here and now. Since scaling back the number of days I'm on the road and, as a result, peeling away many layers of stress, I've learned to sleep eight hours a night, that is to say that I've learned to be woken by an alarm clock. But here, at ISTE, that's all out the window. I'm waking up at absurd hours … thinking!

I am also obliged to (blame this on) recognize that of all of the learning opportunities I've attended and attended-to at ISTE13, the ones that have truly pushed my thinking have all been facilitated by Steve Hargadon.

Steve is a forge!

The heat of the conversations he instigates and the amazing thinkers he interview for The Future of Education, soften the metal of some of my most valued visions and reshape them into ideas that are better … that excite me … that make it hard for me to sleep.

If we succeed in hacking education into something that is, once again, relevant, we will owe more to Steve Hargadon than we will ever know.

What's got me awake now and anxious to blog again? Well, it started with Hack Education on Saturday. The best conversations often cycle around to, “Now how do we sell this? How do we convince administrations, other teachers, our parents and communities to see and understand this new vision education – SCHOOL 2.0?”

During some of these conversations and the inner-conversations that happen in my own head, I was struck by the fact that our description of new schooling does not necessarily change the look of schools and classrooms in any way that inspires acceptance and commitment. It's all about the what and the how of our children's learning.

It is crucial that we understand this, because to convince others of our vision, we must have something to point to – something for others to look at.

So, what if we could point to Student 2.0? It's not a new phrase nor is it a new idea. Clay Burell (Beyond School) instigated or facilitated Student 2.0 years ago. It was evidently a blogging platform that several “students” used to voice their passions. I'll not share the URL here, because it has fallen into neglect and been grabbed by one of those domain hijackers.

Perhaps we should take this on. Perhaps, rather than trying to define the classroom and the school of the 21st century, we should be imagining and describing the student/learner of this post-industrial and change-fueled time.

  • What will they talk about after school?
  • How will they act after school?
  • What will homework become to them?
  • What products will they bring home or into their communities?
  • In what ways might their personal passions be manifestly tied to their school?
  • How might they excite their parents, neighbors and greater communities?

If we can answer these questions, recognizing that we don't all need to come to the same answers, then we can design the schools that inspire those students.

When communities can see these youngsters walk away of their schools without walking away from schooling, then we might be able to re-vision formal education for others.


5 thoughts on “Is School 2.0 the Wrong Conversation?”

  1. I sometimes freak out when I think about how the kids will interact with each other. Online learning, cyberbullying, being independent learners? It is exciting but equally scary times to be an educator

    1. @James Gorcesky, I completely agree. While I think this is a worthwhile cause and it gives those being educated a voice with blogs and whatnot, I worry we are compromising positive social interactions for the future. However, while I feel this way about younger students, I my self have earned my Master through online coursework and it was great. So who knows where all of this will take us.

    2. @James Gorcesky, I agree that it is more than a bit scary. But to leave things alone, to continue teaching children like they’re products on an assembly line, continuing to feed the corporate machine, is far more scary.

      There will be problems and abuses. We simply solve them as they come along, as we are so good at doing.

  2. Focusing on the consumer (student) rather than the product (schools) might actually lead us to something that makes a difference. I have worked in education for 34 years and have seen change for the sake of change. There have been multiple iterations of literacy curricula and math textbooks change as often as the district can afford to buy new ones. When we keep looking at the test results as the determining factor of a successful classroom experience, we forget that we are not producing widgets that can go through final inspection and be rejected if they do not meet our standards.
    I think there may be hope in looking, instead, at what kinds of people we want in our world 20 or 50 or 100 years from now, and then plan from the end result, as is suggested in PBL (project based learning). I have not seen tremendous positive results from trying to mold children into great test takers, perhaps we can see positive change by answering the questions you have suggested and building a community that can support and inspire the students we want to see.

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