April 2nd, 2013

The Three Narratives

So, this is really thin, early-morning thinking, but I’m trying to describe what I think are the three competing narratives around schooling at the moment. To be honest, I think I’ve done a pretty bad job of it, but I thought I’d post it up anyway to see if some of you might help me flesh it out a bit more clearly. 

Here they are:

1. Schools are broken. The way forward is to make schools better by doubling down on traditional outcomes, state-mandated standardized tests, school choice, and test-based accountability for teachers. The state decides what will be taught and when it will be taught, and, importantly, what will be assessed. Technology’s dual role in this is first to “personalize” delivery of the curriculum to each student using adaptive learning platforms and, second, to provide all students access to “the best teachers” and “best content” available via the Web as a way to increase efficiency.  ”Student learning” is defined by comparison test scores year to year and is “managed” by the system. Policy makers and businessmen who are, for the most part, not educators, are chief drivers of reforms. 

2. Schools are not broken, but can be improved. The way forward is to make schools better by reducing the emphasis on standardized tests, rethinking teacher training and assessment, and increasing local control over school decisions. Thinking about curriculum and classrooms is rooted in traditional systems and structures, and schools are still places where state-created outcomes are delivered to students. Technology’s role is to support instruction and student learning, which is measured primarily by teacher created assessments and summative evaluations. Traditional educators are the primary drivers of change thinking and reforms.

3. Schools as currently constructed are not broken but increasingly irrelevant. Abundant connections to content, knowledge and people created by the Web requires a fundamental rethinking of traditional structures and systems. The way forward is to change the emphasis on student learning from “what” to learn to, instead, “how” to learn. Technology’s role is to support both students and teachers as inquiry, discovery based learners with an emphasis on creating, connecting, collaborating, and sharing authentic, real-world work. Learning is assessed by performance, achievement of teacher-student negotiated outcomes, and contribution. Educators and connected learners are the chief drivers of these reforms.

My biggest struggle is with #2. I’m pretty clear what this group doesn’t want (see #1), but I’m not totally sure what they advocate for, especially in terms of the role of technology.

Anyway…be gentle. ;0)

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    Will, I see #2 and #3 being essentially the same group but using different tactics. Both are educator (and student)...
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Welcome! I'm Will Richardson, parent, educator, speaker, author, 12-year blogger at Weblogg-ed and now here. I'm trying to answer the question "What happens to schools and classrooms and learning in a 2.0 world?" Best selling new book: Why School?s...order now!!

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