I’m still catching up with all of the reading I missed during my little hiatus, so this may have gotten more attention than it seems, but is anyone else a bit interested in the fact that one 21,000 student district in the UK has decided to close all of its high schools and open learning centers instead:
In the words of rock legend Alice Cooper’s most famous song, “school’s out forever”. Knowsley Council in Merseyside, which – for years – has languished near
or at the bottom of exam league tables, has abolished the use of the word to describe secondary education in the borough. It is taking the dramatic step of closing all of its eleven existing secondary schools by 2009. As part of a Â£150m government-backed rebuilding programme, they will reopen as seven state-of-the-art, round-the-clock, learning centres with the aid of Microsoft – which has already developed links with one school in the borough, Bowring.
Graham Atwell says “I see this as the first big crack in the present model of schooling
which dates from the first industrial revolution. And it won’t be the last.” And Stephen Downes writes “This is pretty much the system I and many others have been recommending
for years, so this is a program which will be well worth watching.”
It’s dramatic, no doubt. And the way they’ve envisioned this space is, well, radical to some extent: no formal classes, no timetables, and “They will be given their day’s assignments in groups of 120 in the morning before dispersing to internet cafe-style zones in the learning
centres to carry them out.” And they can access it all from home as well.
I think we’ll all be interested to see how this works, but is anyone else niggled by the Microsoft connection? If big business is going to carry the empowerment juice for educators being able to implement bold changes and ideas, is that real reform? Or is it Microsoft’s?