What Does School Reform Look Like?
This weekend, I’ll be moderating a discussion at the second annual EduCon conference in which we tackle the question, “What does school reform look like?” It’s such a big topic that no discussion panel could ever capture the full scope of it. So in the spirit of the conversational nature of the EduCon conference, let’s start talking about it now.
This will be my first time at the EduCon conference, though it wil be my second attempt. Last year I was all set to make the drive to Philadelphia from DC, but a wicked sinus infection had other plans for me. That’s probably why conference organizer Chris Lehmann slyly decided to invite me to moderate a panel, as I would then have to be on my deathbed in order to pull out of it in that circumstance. (Well played, Chris - well played.) And don’t worry, I’m feeling quite well, despite my dance with hypothermia on the National Mall at the inauguration earlier this week.
I’m really looking forward to EduCon, largely because it’s going to be chock full of really smart people who get both pedagogy and technology. Edtech luminaries like Will Richardson, Cheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Gary Stager and Dave Warlick will all be presenting there. And because it’s a relatively small conference (especially in comparison to monster events like NECC), it’ll be a great chance to have a lot of face-time and group interaction with everyone there.
It also helps that EduCon, as a conference, really gets it. The event is organized around a number of basic principles: schools should be inquiry-driven and focus on creating 21st century citizens. Technology must serve pedagogy, not the other way around, and enable students to research, create, communicate and collaborate. Learning can - and must - be networked.
On Sunday, I’ll be getting up at the crack of dawn to make the drive to Philly for my panel on school reform. I fully expect to get some thoughtful, provocative answers from my panelists, who include Lehmann, Stager, Mike Wang of Teach for America and former Maine edtech director Bette Manchester, among others. But like I said, even if we were to address the entire conference on what school reform looks like, we’d just be scratching the service on the topic.
So let’s start chatting now. What does school reform look like to you? Does it incorporate principles like inquiry-based learning and 21st century citizenship, as suggested by the conference themes? How central a role does technology play in reform, and how do we avoid it from being a distraction to our ultimate goals? What barriers need to be broken down or even demolished outright? And how realistic is it that we’ll reach any of these goals?
If you want, feel free to post your thoughts in the discussion thread below. But you can also post your thoughts elsewhere - on Twitter, on YouTube, on your own blog, etc, as long as you use the tag educon. Conference organizers will be tracking that keyword on a variety of sites, so we’ll all be able to follow each other’s conversations in a distributed fashion. I’ll then report back later on some of the discussions that take place.
So… What does school reform look like? -andy