Jeff Jarvis expresses a summary of my thoughts on schools (and institutions at large) today during his TEDxNYED talk. I find his talk cathartic, purging the staleness I feel in my own conversations about education. Maybe it’s just the swearing. Some excerpts I particularly like:
“Right now, you’re the audience and I’m lecturing.
What does this remind of us of? The classroom, of course, and the entire structure of an educational system built for the industrial age, turning out students all the same, convincing them that there is one right answer — and that answer springs from the lecturn. If they veer from it they’re wrong; they fail.”
Good God, that’s the last thing we should want. We should want questions, challenges, discussion, debate, collaboration, quests for understanding and solutions.”
“Do what you do best and link to the rest.”
“I still haven’t moved past the lecture and teacher as starting point. I also think we must make the students the starting point.”
“I asked the students in the room what they wished their schools were teaching them. It was a great list: practical yet visionary.”
“So we need to move students up the education chain. They don’t always know what they need to know, but why don’t we start by finding out?”
“But the problem is that we start at the end, at what we think students should learn, prescribing and preordaining the outcome: We have the list of right answers. We tell them our answers before they’ve asked the questions. We drill them and test them and tell them they’ve failed if they don’t regurgitate back our lectures as lessons learned. That is a system built for the industrial age, for the assembly line, stamping out everything the same: students as widgets, all the same.”
“So if not the lecture hall, what’s the model? I mentioned one: the distributed Oxford: lectures here, teaching there.
Once you’re distributed, then one has to ask, why have a university? Why have a school? Why have a newspaper? Why have a place or a thing? Perhaps, like a new news organization, the tasks shift from creating and controlling content and managing scarcity to curating people and content and enabling an abundance of students and teachers and of knowledge: a world whether anyone can teach and everyone will learn. We must stop selling scarce chairs in lecture halls and thinking that is our value.”
“We must stop our culture of standardized testing and standardized teaching. Fuck the SATs.* In the Google age, what is the point of teaching memorization?”
“The school becomes not a factory but an incubator.”
Here’s your opportunity to call it out. What’s bullshit about schools today and what do you or would you so that the only time “Bullshit!” was yelled out was during a card game?