The Blue Skunk muses about the future of school…..after lunch! Let’s Get Going On This Revolution Already!

I had a teacher take me to task today about always talking about change and pointing out that the school does not look much different today than it ever did.  She is right!  Another teacher says pick quantifiable changes and push them, then measure them!  Good idea!  I guess I have to quit worrying about the those who are in denial and run from the room screaming something like “but that is my duty free lunch!”  Doug Johnson writes of his frustration with the change speaker’s (and blogger’s) bureau in his response to a call for a speaker to inspire his audience with visions of how things will look in 40 years….he states:

As much fun as speculating what education might or ought to look like in 2050 (I’ll only be 98 years old, after all), I’d suggest energies are better spent in realizing the potential of the technologies and opportunities we have available to us – TODAY. These would be my questions for Will (Richardson) …

  • Why don’t we now have an IEP for every child (and every teacher), with tech facilitating this today?
  • Why doesn’t every child have a laptop or netbook with 24/7 access to tutorials, information, and productivity tools for all learners with genuinely differentiated approaches and resource for each student TODAY?
  • Why is not every teacher taking advantage of challenging/engaging game environments and MUVEs TODAY?
  • Why is every teacher not taking advantage of a nearly unlimited number of resources to allow the creation of relevant assignments based on personal interests for every child TODAY?
  • Why do teachers and students not have 24/7 access to information professionals (librarians) TODAY?
  • Why do there only seem to be a few teachers in every school that make creativity, problem-solving and global interactions a priority TODAY?

Why are these things not the norm, but the exception TODAY? It would take no extra funds, no revolution, no scientific breakthroughs, no visioning. Just work.(And I’ll bet these things are not universal even in the districts of the administrative geniuses Scott describes.)
My grandson is in school TODAY, so quite frankly, I want to know how education can be different when he walks into his classroom after lunch TODAY – not in 2050.
2050? –  my grandkids may well have grandkids in school by then!
Oh, my 2050 bold predictions:

  • Polar bears will be extinct.
  • The rich will be getting richer and the poor, poorer.
  • Computers will be smaller, faster and cheaper – but not a damn bit smarter.
  • Educators will be worried about 2100 instead of 2050

8 thoughts on “The Blue Skunk muses about the future of school…..after lunch! Let’s Get Going On This Revolution Already!

  1. Interesting ideas, but you will need more staff to implement some of those changes, and I'm not sure you can do that. For example, the IEP idea is very good, and writing one now only takes about an hour, but you must make sure it is being implemented, check progress, etc., and that takes a lot of time. I can barely get everything done with my 28 student caseload and 4 plan periods – and I only have to grade papers for 42 students. Maybe not more staff, but time to do these things? Somehow?

    And hey – I love my duty free lunch, so don't go messing with that! 😉

  2. Of course we are not talking about taking away anyone's lunch! It is frustrating though when we talk about change and all some hear is somebody is willing to work with students over their lunch and that is all they concentrate on. Not the reform, just that "oh my gosh" they can't do that! When teachers working over lunch time was not even on the proverbial table.

  3. I hate to always be contrary…Well, no I guess I must not really hate to… anyhow, all of these ideas are great, since most of them lead us to the ideal that has one teacher dealing with a very few students. Unfortunately reality is that even those with the fewest students have to serve 75 or 80 of them. The closest we are likely to come to individualized instruction is grouping students of similar ability levels. I share the frustration of seeing large numbers of students who apparently don't learn and, what's worse, have quit caring; but I think its important to try to understand what's broke before we start wholesale changes. Many of us are working more now than we ever have and the ideas that are being suggested all require still more teacher time. I don't know about you, but I haven't got any more time and I have a difficult time finding ways to streamline what I teach, since math is a skills class that builds up a body of knowledge and skipping things can jump up and bite students later on. Let's look at what we are doing now and see whether it is serving the purpose we designed it for. If it isn't then we can adjust, but to constantly say we need sweeping change is probably going to cause just the reactions that have irritated you so much.

  4. I think we need to start having some serious face-to-face-to-face discussions among faculty members that develop concrete ideas that we can all (mostly) get behind. If we come up with an "ideal", what kind of incremental changes can we start making next year or the year after that? If we develop a vision for our future, sell it to the faculty and the board, we should be able to then develop an action plan that would allow us to transition fully over a certain number of years. Let's look at piloting some of these ideas to see if they work.

  5. Mr. Aydt – I think ability grouping is what we need to do to make certain that the kids who are lacking certain requisite skills receive instruction in those areas.

    What sense does it make to require a student who can't write a good paragraph to write a research paper? What sense does it make to put a kid in Algebra who can't do simple math?

    I think we all assume that kids will come to high school with certain skills, and sometimes, we are assuming wrongly.

    No kid should be allowed to graduate from this school if he or she can't read at a 6th grade level, write an error-free letter of application, and do every-day math that is needed to function in the world. It might take some kids 3 or 4 years to accomplish those 3 things, but if I was in charge (scary thought!), I would make sure no one left without those skills.

  6. You ask all of the right questions. I see fear and time as an aspect of the problem. The emotional reaction to technology by some is much more than "it's the technology". We need to ease those we value into the mix. Regarding IEP's for all, time and knowledge of the how to best meet the needs of each student are stumbling blocks.
    Your reference to a grandchild is the same that I made on my blog at http://bhsdragonsblog.blogspot.com/, the same issues abound everywhere.

  7. I am revising my previous comment. After I did some reading, I would push that reading comprehension requirement to an 8th grade level.

    (I'm vowing to get all those WJ scores organized during Christmas break so we can see how many kids are below that level!)

  8. I like the IEP for every child, but not what IEP currently means. I think that an IEP should contain future plans and goals, classes taken, grades, classes to be taken, state test scores, discipline and attendance records. With that info, we can help each student reach his or her individual potential.

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