I've admittedly become jaded by all of the "innovations" in education. Most of these innovations are recycled, renamed, and repackaged ideas and concepts from generations past in education. They are faddish, reactionary, and may or may not marginally improve student learning or teacher productivity. Having spent nearly 20 years in education reform, schools and classrooms still largely look the same as when I started -- even amidst all of these innovations. In fact, they look pretty much the same for the past 200 years.
Would you want to go to a hospital that looks as it did 200 years ago? I doubt it. What about a dentist's office? Or any workplace? Yet we're satisfied with sending our children to schools that look the same as they always have with students neatly lined up in rows of desks while a teacher using the same practices (perhaps enhanced by an overhead projector and PowerPoint presentation) as they always have. I'd like to be clear -- this is not the fault of individual teachers. Rather, there is a momentum of the status quo in education that stifles true innovation and creativity while reinforcing the structures and systems that work for some students, but certainly not all.
I'm not going to pretend I have the answer to what future schools are going to look like. I am fairly confident they involve technology as a tool to rethink some of the structures that make personalized learning and differentiated instruction difficult. What I like is the approach by Silicon Schools Fund. Namely, raise private money (seeded by John Fisher of the Gap Family), invest in entrepreneurial educators with a proven track record to design new school models, and do it all in the SF Bay Area to create a hub/network of cutting-edge schools that can serve as proof points for what's possible.
David Tyack and Larry Cuban declared 15 years ago that education reform was "Tinkering Towards Utopia." While we're all tinkering, Brian Greenberg and Silicon Schools are launching schools into a new stratosphere. Read about it here.
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