Thursday, February 1, 2007

School 2.0


Christopher Sessums has recently published a set of "theses toward educational reform," that he is hoping might be used as a preliminary toward a School 2.0 manifesto. The list is still taking shape, and contains a variety of statements, some of which are unsurprising generalities ("Schools can change the lives of individuals for better or for worse."), some of which are more hard-edged ("Social software enables a new type of teaching and learning that subverts conventional forms of teaching and learning."), some of which are more overtly political and subject to political debate ("No Child Left behind is not a position. It is a bombastic, under funded mandate cast in a pejorative rhetoric."), and some of which are more clearly embedded in as-yet-unstated philosophical or pedagogical assumptions ("High stakes tests should never be tied to teacher or school evaluations or merit pay.") Some of the statements are cast in the form of questions ("Who needs school?" "If schools are broken and broke, who designed it?"(sic)).

It's a thought-provoking list, and perhaps a necesssary starting point for discussion, but in its present form it is more like a pile of stuff than a platform. In its very bagginess and and awkwardness and redundancy it suggests the difficulty of coming up with a single clear, coherent educational manifesto for the emerging era, a techno-literate pedagogical Theory of Everything.

If I were to take one statement from the list as a launching pad for further discussion, I think I choose this one: "Schools and teachers are knowledge creators. They are more than mere passive receivers of knowledge and information." Now granted, this is not a new idea. It's been around in one form or another more or less forever. But it's a powerful notion nonetheless, and though it is often given lip service in our schools, it is perhaps more often left behind in the classroom and in curriculum design workshops, which are often dominated by notions of rigor that are linked to mastery of predefined content.

If we were to endorse the notion that it is the business of schools to help students create knowledge, and link that to the notion that technology is now providing us with tools that make it easier not just to access knowledge, but to generate and share it, then the question would become, how can we redesign our schools and our classrooms and our teaching practices to make that kind of knowledge creation happen, not just once in a while, but on a daily basis?

I've got some preliminary thoughts about how I would begin to answer the question, but I want to let the question sit in the back of my brain for a day or two before I start working into them. In the meantime, gentle reader, I invite your first thoughts as well.

1 comment:

Christopher D. Sessums said...

Thank you for commenting on this topic.
I liked your statement:
in its present form it is more like a pile of stuff than a platform. In its very bagginess and and awkwardness and redundancy it suggests the difficulty of coming up with a single clear, coherent educational manifesto for the emerging era, a techno-literate pedagogical Theory of Everything.
A pedagogical Theory of Everything is quite ambitious, perhaps even arrogant, and I don't think that is what is necessarily intended.
I truly like/admire how you took a specific notion, i.e., knowledge creation, and reframe the focus of such a manifesto. I am looking forward to reading your synthesis and would like to be able to work closer with you as you seem to have a sincere grasp of what it is many of us are after.

Chris