Yesterday, I had an energetic discussion on FB with some friends prompted by this:
I know many gifted tchrs + admins (some right here on FB) who are in environments that do not represent an optimal model of learning + who are looking for something better. Couldn’t we all get together + start a new, better school? (Yes, I know about charter schools but there are also opportunities in public ed.) Am I naive or do we lack imagination or willpower or something else?
Part of the dialogue that ensued had to do with what authority such a new school might be founded under: public school, charter school, private school, online school, hybrid, or something else.
Here are things I think are incompatible with sound public education: corporations driven by quarterly profits, publicly-elected leadership boards, and unions and/or tenure. But I am a big believer in and supporter of public education.
I’ve written before about the opportunities for reform that I think online and blended learning present to public education. People in the know seem to think that public schools are not in the position to seize this opportunity. If you haven’t seen it, Pearson and others seem to be moving quickly to capitalize.
If there is a market for this for big publishers, there is surely a niche for small groups focused on higher quality.
One big question I have is how the two roles of facilitating learning and babysitting will be divided up in the new blended world. Much has been written about the role of schools as “holding tanks.” Even if consensus could be gained that babysitting should not be schools’ role, few parents have the ability or will to supervise their children all day while they attend online school.
So if we could devise a better school online, who is in a good position to deal with the “babysitting” problem? This is especially challenging in a decentralized environment with many isolated rural families. Some possible answers: corporate day care centers (especially ones that already have infrastructure in place…Sylvan, etc.), community organizations, co-ops of parents, existing public schools. Other than post offices, it is difficult to think of organizations with physical infrastructures that outstrip public schools.
I agree with my friend Sue who has said that this situation calls for some real out of the box thinking. What are your out of the box ideas?
[And for regular readers who might wonder what this has to do with mobile technology, this seems to me to be a given in any sort of curriculum-driven reform effort, as well as for online/blended learning.]