I’m constantly provoked by Umair Haque’s essays in the Harvard Business Review, and his bit on “Declare Your Radicalness" is no exception. The whole essay is definitely worth the read, as are many of the comments, but as is often the case, there was one line that really jumped out:
"…We can’t merely call for a set of broken institutions to work slightly better, to restore the present to the state of the past. We’ve got to redefine better; to redesign the future."
This isn’t news; I’ve been harping about the problems with settling for “better” for a while now. We need different, not better, and I think that’s what Haque is advocating for here as well. As in:
- We don’t need better assessments; we need different assessments that help us understand students as learners and constructors of their own ongoing education instead of knowers of information and narrow skills.
- We don’t need better teachers; we need different teachers who see their roles as master learners first and content guides or experts second.
- We don’t need better schools; we need different schools that function as communities of inquiry and learning instead of delivery systems for a highly proscribed, traditional curriculum.
And so on…
Are these ideas radical? For some, I’m sure they are. And I know there is a lot more radical thinking about “education” out there than I can come close to. But the idea of a fully networked, progressive learning environment would for the vast majority constitute different and would require us, as Haque suggests, to redefine the future.