Saturday, October 2, 2010

Diana Rhoten: "We are not waiting on superman, we are empowering superheroes"

I have been reading about the movie "Waiting for Superman" which is about schools in the U.S. Although I have not seen it, Diana Rhoten writes about it in one of the most thoughtful posts I've read in a while. I would really urge you to check out her entire post, I have added her blog to my feeds and look forward to more.

According to Rhoten, the main message of the movie is that the education system in the U.S. is failing kids and their families left and right. Furthermore, the movie claims that the adults in the system – particularly, the teachers unions – are responsible for letting the public-school system devolve to the state of crisis it’s in today.

According to Rhoten, all of the recommendations the movie makes for fixing schools have been tried before and they haven't worked.

She says, "I believe we need to reframe the problem and the conversation, from one about re-forming schooling to one about re-thinking education and re-imagining learning." Her plan to re-think involves three assumptions (see her blog for full text).

Assumption 1:

"The future of education is about learning not schooling. If we continue to limit our thinking about education to 28 students,1 teacher,1500 square feet between the hours of 8 to 3, we are condemning today’s fourth graders to exactly the same educational experience that I got in 1976, that my father got in 1946, and that his father got in 1916.

And, as long as we constrain ourselves to thinking about education in terms of these traditional parameters of schooling and not frame the conversation about learning as something that happens anywhere, anytime, by default we limit our ability to imagine alternatives that could actually get us out of the crisis we’re in today."

Many others have said that the same thing.

Assumption 2:

"Technology is not an end in itself but a means to an end, and that end is better learning....

.... to date most of technology applications in the education sector have been about increasing the efficiency of institutional schooling rather than improving the efficacy of individual learning. But, what if we designed new technologies for the learner rather than the school administrator?"

I believe that we are talking about a change in the culture of schools. My own experiences prove that even realizing culture changes within my own classroom are not easy.

Assumption 3:

..."We don’t believe in simply throwing technology over the fence and seeing what happens....

...Our vision of technologically enabled learning is not one of the lone child sitting at her desktop (or laptop) passively consuming PDFs or browsing Web pages. We believe the potential of technology for learning is much greater. We believe its power resides in its ability to deliver active and interactive experiences where a learner participates in the very construction of knowledge by crafting and curating, mixing and re-mixing information with digital tools, a process which can be and should be greatly augmented by online and offline social interactions between friends, in a community of peers, or an extended network of people (both professional and amateur) who share her interests."

She gives her three aspirations.

Aspiration 1:

"We want to be disruptive in our work. Our goal is to “shock the system” by bringing to light concrete, real life, radical examples of what the future of learning could really look like. Both in terms of the technological tools and the social contexts. If we are doing business as usual, we will have failed. "

Aspiration 2:

"We see our work as taking place on the edges....Better to demonstrate what could be than to wait for what might be."

Innovation often means initial failures.

Aspiration 3:

"We want to work with thinkers and doers, makers and movers beyond the “usual suspects.”Our success depends on our ability to recruit talented folks who haven’t necessarily considered themselves stakeholders in the system before and to engaging their expertise, their insights, and their resources to solve this problem."

She goes on to say that people working in the system are needed and important as well. In my opinion, it's about time we listened to and empowered the innovators or our public schools will be the subject of the next high profile movie.

1 comment:

  1. This looks and sounds very interesting. I am trying to track this film down so I can watch it. Very powerful.