Take the phone, try to act as if it never existed. Now reinvent it. You might come up with this or this. The television? As a kid I could have never imagined this. The modern corporation? Oh yeah. But can the same be said for public education in America? If we were to completely reinvent it, pretending as if its genesis and subsequent evolution never happened, would the resulting reinvention still produce what we have today? I sure hope not.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a public educator and plan on being so for the rest of my working days. I just think we can be doing so much better.
Other than the fact that we talk into it and hear someone talking from the other end, in what ways is the phone today the same as its ancestor? The television? The first remote control that my family had came with a WIRE! And this was 60 years after its creation. Google? I just don't see the factories of the late 1700s having day care, free sushi for lunch, and playrooms. But the American school system is by and large the same as it ever was. Just ask Sir Ken Robinson. Why is this?
I have a theory...it's untested and based not whatsoever on research. Everything else I described above came to be because of the user. Phone users demanded a camera coupled with a calendar and an internet browser and a gazillion apps and a music player and unlimited texting. Watchers of television demanded flatter, crisper, 3D, streaming Netflix, a gazillion pixels. But school isn't created for the user. Not for today's users.
Today's users demand interaction, collaboration, stimulation. They demand opportunities to think and apply what is being learned to something that they can relate to. They demand change and movement. They crave compassion and want badly for their voices to be heard. But we're not listening.
There's so much talk today about reforming education. Let's take it a step further. Let's reinvent it.