Friday, June 25, 2010

I am tired of talking about reform - let's create the "unschool"

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 08:  Manhattan Charter Sc...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Just got back from another meeting where we talk - this has been happening to all people involved in organizations since the dawn of man/womankind... like Nike - I now just want to do it NOW.  I can remember when OELMA final went from meetings to action after our strategic plan - now we meet w/ a mission & an action plan w/ a champion and a date for when things we want to do actually get accomplished.  What a concept.
Today I met a co-conspirator - a real social deviant who wants to forgo the talk & actually create!  Isn't that what real innovators and creators really want?  Best of  all, she's much younger than I am- a junior in college who is on internship @ Battelle - what could be better!  She agrees that we are missing the student voice in ed reform and agrees we must move out of the system to create a new model.  Someone today said that "form & function" the old Sullivan idea from architecture is  amiss in our plan for wholesale statewide reform.  She's right- we can't put the new into the old model of education- the agrarian/time/space/place/who is teacher/who is student model.  Hence the "unschool." 
Someone else told me today that I could create a charter school as a "new school" under the auspice of a new innovative school- as if I did not know that after 32 years in education.  No, a charter school is still a school that fits the old mode.  I want to break it!
So, if I've learned anything from ed reform it was from Daniel Kim, 2 years ago into this effort.  It has to be systematic and begin w/shared vision, not programmatic.  My vision/thoughts/brainstorms so far:
  1. Asynchronous - no summer break or typical breaks
  2. A faculty/group who respects & buys into the philosophy of engagement, risk, teacher as chief learner, teacher as one who knows something you don't and can communicate/teach it to others
  3. Unschool = US - it's community
  4. Many places w/a/several central communal spots - a physical place/an online place to come together
  5. Many places=museums, art institutes, arboretums, universities, theaters, dance studios
  6. Mentors for teachers, students, administrators from in/outside education
  7. PLN's for all - personal learning networks
That's all for now - it's almost 1 AM. 
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1 comment:

  1. Really good to hear your ideas, and what a joy it is to know that I’m not alone! Take it from me—I’ve never been able to understand why making these plans and visions for the future of education a REALITY presents such an impasse. Sure, there are challenges and road blocks—but there are only so many institutes that can be held before someone makes it happen! Here’s the thing—if we want it as badly as we say, it looks like we are going to be the ones for the job. I’m certainly ready for the challenge!

    Let me add a few items to the brainstorming list:

    1)It seems essential that teachers should be allotted plenty of time to collaborate on curriculum and other plans. We need teaching teams and individuals who handle student scheduling and coursework to collaborate from the outset, not as an afterthought.

    2)You are right about the unschool— it really makes more sense to call it a learning community. The brick-and-mortar mentality needs to be torn down!

    3)It’s absolutely essential that students are involved in the evolution of such a learning community. We can guess at some of their most pressing needs, but they are the ones who know themselves best. We need to empower them to believe that they contribute as much to their education as teachers!

    More soon...