Over on my blog, my last post is titled "Quo Vadis?" Here's the last paragraph:

Just as the airlines superceded the railroads as passenger carriers, we need to find/develop the replacement for the current models of education. We’re still going the same places. We still need to learn. We need skills and knowledge. We need paths to credential so that we can actually use our skills and knowledge by passing the gatekeepers. We still need to get to the same places — credential, skill, knowledge, self-fulfillment. What we need is some kind of jet plane to replace our Educational Iron Horse and, when we find it, perhaps it will take us places we didn’t think were possible.

I'm staking out the position that all this talk about School 2.0 and Classroom 2.0 is the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs of Titanic 2.0. The ship is still going down.


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Ahhhh... I see. I don't know if you've listened to my School 2.0 interview series at all, but you'd likely find it interesting (http://edtechlive.wikispaces.com/recordings+list). On some number of occasions I have mentioned the link I'm seeing between the home school model and some of the dialog going on now about School 2.0... I'm preparing a longer post on the topic.

Bottom line--I don't think we're willing to invest enough time, energy, and money into our schools to actually transform them...
On this, we have unequivocal agreement. I'm listening now.
Unfortunately I think we are doomed to the same fate as those fateful passengers had oh so long ago. I'm not being pessimistic about this, just a realist. As I see it there are tooooo many hands in the cookie jar for education to succeed. NEA, and their lobbyist cronies, have one thing in mind, their constituents. The federal and state governments have one thing in mind, their constituents. The district level personnel have one thing in mind, shall I say, their constituents. It's a top to bottom problem of each level saying, "Ok, it's time you started being accountable."

But when it comes to the funding what needs to be there to succeed? No, we don't have money. So you are so right on Steve. From the top levels this problem permeates. I don't think you would have a problem getting people to invest the time and energy to transform the schools. The edublogosphere proves that fact. It's the money that's the underlying issue, shall I say the root of the school evil?
These are good points, TNT, but I'm not convinced that the problem is money. I think it's the politics -- and the requisite knowledge on the ground to get the most out of the limited funds available..

The Open Source movement has free alternatives to the Microsoft/Apple cartel that work perfectly well - perhaps better - than the expensive versions. The problem is that schools, and districts lack the knowledge and leadership to make these alternatives happen. People with the credentials to get jobs in the school appear to lack the requisite knowledge, and those with the knowledge lack the credentials.

The politics of blocking sites like flickr, del.icio.us, edublogs.com, MySpace and all the rest are the real obstacle. These steps do nothing to protect kids and only serves to force them underground. What they protect are the schools and, by extension, the teachers from ridiculousness like the Julie Amero situation. Let's keep an eye on the reality, not the propaganda here. We're not protecting kids when we keep them ignorant. All we're doing is forcing them in the more dangerous position of learning without guidance and supervision.

So long as we continue to build the wall between school and reality using politics and the law to isolate students, teachers, and schools from reality, then the less likely we are to actually make any progress.

Is home school the only answer?
But, here is the complicating factor... I don't believe that the state and federal government have any clue how far afield we are from the type of education we need. The people making the decisions aren't asking or answering the right questions. For that reason, starting isn't even really enough because by the time the very slow bureaucratic machine fires into action it will be too late.

It is a conversation that will need to permeate the world outside education. Maybe part of the solution is to involve educators more closely in the decision making. Maybe it is related to the need for providing for change that is more dynamic (not driven by the bureaucratic nightmare). Currently educational decisions related to funding and prgrams are driven largely by people that are not educators or from the education field.
This certainly one of the problems.

But another issue is how to change the course of the leviathan that is Education. Seven million teachers in the US lack the requisite skills -- and 6.9M of them will resent my saying that. Teacher preparation programs around the country keep churning out more teachers with the wrong skills. State and Federal decision makers have bought into the "accountability" mantra, but instead of actually establishing a meaningful program of accountability they're measuring what's easily measured, even though it doesn't reflect what they want to know. (It's the "looking for the lost contact" syndrome -- from the old joke about the guy looking for his contact at night under the streetlight because the light's better there.)

But the legislators got elected by people who believe that "accountability" is important and that the educator voice is suspect because the generally held belief is that "teachers don't want to be held accountable." Just try telling a member of the general public that the high stakes testing isn't valid and you'll see what I mean. The most common response is "Well, of COURSE you think it's not valid!" You can't make them understand that it's a statistical evaluation of the outcomes -- not an opinion about the rightness or wrongness of the approach.

So, if the educators can't educate the public, and the public doesn't understand the issue, and the call is to "continue doing what we're doing, but expect different outcomes" then how do we stop the insanity?
I interviewed John Seely Brown, and in preparing for the interview I remember listening to a podcast of his in which he talked about the American automakers and their inability to treat suppliers as partners. One possible, sad conclusion that we came to is that large organizations have a hard time reacting fast enough (or at all) to change, and sometimes have to fail...
Which brings me back to my question:

What's going to arise to take the ecologocial niche left when the Edusaurus finally kicks the bucket?
Charter schools? Home schooling?
Charters are still schools -- at least in Colorado. Part and parcel of the Edusaurus Wrecks.

Home schools have some potential, but the functionality -- the credentialling which is the primary function of schools -- will need to be picked up.

Perhaps some progeny of ETS will become the de facto credentialer -- a kind of Super-GED?
I think that schooling must always include a combination of the virtual and the real. Eliminating 'school' (bricks and mortar) is not the solution, IMHO. I believe strongly in the power of building community in real space and online because there is immense value in both arenas.

One area that needs EXTENSIVE overhaul is teacher prep. I have a preserveice teacher in my room this week and she relayed how little technology is highlighted in her classes... at all... we are spending her time in my room as a crash course in tech tools for the 21st century classroom. She claims that she is woefully underprepared to teach while utilizing technology.

Unfortunately I think things will have to actively be REALLY bad to get the attention of the power holders. Bureaucrats like to measure, quantify, report and recommend; a process that takes a ton of time. We may need to find a way to 'prove' the efficacy of 21st century skills.
I'm with ya on the power of building community in real space. Really young kids need it in particular.

The teacher prep programs *are* in need of overhaul. I used to teach the required two credits in technology, and the standards I was required to teach to were dreadful. But just getting the standards changed, changing the two credits to something more realistic -- like nine hours -- that's not going to help when they go to all their other classes and the methods, tools, and techniques are right out of the 19th century.

Moreover, the current state of hysteria in schools across the country prevents the use of 99% of the tools that *I* think should be included. Blocking access to MySpace and delicious and blogger and all the rest of that protects the schools, but does absolutely nothing to protect the kids. It just leaves the playing field bereft of moderating influences.



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