What is the purpose of the classroom?

Contrary to popular belief, my consideration is that the classroom is to efficiently manage an expensive resource -- teacher time. The goal is to apply a cost/benefit analysis to the business of education in order to achieve the optimal results with the least expense. It's not about maximizing learning. It's intended to minimize the cost of instruction.

Think I'm wrong? Try to get one teacher per student. Even one teacher for three students.

Most people engaged in education recognize the current populist model of school is based on an industrial-age sensibility of command-and-control. There's one boss. You all report to him/her. He/she reports to the board of directors. You have a product -- students -- that you must turn out in pre-established quantitities within certain tolerances.

Great when you're turning out lightbulbs or automobile tires. Sucky model when you're trying to teach a kid how to read. Or do math. Or investigate the physical world. I'm preaching to the choir here, right?

So. What should Classroom 2.0 be?

Or are we going to keep this industrial-age vision and continue to pretend that the classroom serves the learner?

For the record, I'm not saying we need to do away with the box which the classroom defines, nor am I suggesting that we throw out the need for efficient application of resources. (At least not as a pre-supposition. It may come to that.) What I am asking is how do we get around the problems inherent in the current command-and-control systems to maximize -- not merely optimize -- learning outcomes.


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So, this is a can of worms that is really, really interesting. I've been trying to separate out this kind of question (which I call a "School 2.0" discussion) from the the more practical questions teachers would have about using Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom. I think it's going to be hard to keep them separate!

There has been a discussion of this topic in my own personal network of bloggers and in my interview series, which is why I originally started the School 2.0 wiki and social network... But it felt like the question was a little too big for a lot of folks just learning about collaborative technologies.

There is definitely something to the idea that until you actually use these technologies, you don't really understand how transformative they are to personal learning, and how much they open the door to discussions of pedagogy.

Might I suggest we start this thread on the School 2.0 ning site (http://school20.ning.com)? I think the audience there, while also new, is a bit more primed for it.

How is it that you and I have not talked before? :)

They don't let me out much :)



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