8 Million Agree: Reboot Education DNA

June 4th, 2012

What do we really want from education?

This article kicks off our series Education Reboot on innovating education, on who is blowing up the right boxes and why to recreate and reimagine a system of learning in the world to suit our 21st Century needs and abilities and beyond. To say that education is broken is like saying carbon hurts the planet a little bit. We know carbon is a killer, planetary and human, so the question becomes not whether carbon is bad, but how do we end carbon? In the case of education, it isn’t just broken, but totally bollixed, fu-barred, and in need of a reboot.

In the case of education – from birth to the grave – we know the U.S. and U.S. copied systems of education at every level are failing to create what we want them to create at every level and in every way. There are pockets of success within the old systems, where charter schools, Waldorf, and even certain public schools are showing they can rise above the dire straits of their financial or political woes and pull out amazing miracles.

But for the most part what is old school in this case, isn’t cool. We need new school DNA, so suggests Sir Ken Robinson, New York Times best selling author of ‘The Element’, TED speaker, and education and creativity expert. This video is also a superb example of multi-media and social media being used to the ends it was really created for. Think divergent.

In our series we’ll be asking the right questions to get to the right answers: the truthful question is not whether education is broken; the real question is how do we deliver what children and people are capable of learning, and must learn in our new, permanent state of ambiguity, complexity, volatility, and uncertainty?

It is not a partisan issue (though many try and make it one), and it is not a question of standards. Of course we want the very best outcomes for our kids, and these should be driven by standards. But standards of what and for what good ends – A’s? What is good? And what does a current A even mean translated into quality and meaningfulness for the world we live in?

Why on earth is it so damn hard to figure out that an A does not a fully self-actualized, 21st Century human being capable of harnessing technology and advanced critical thinking make?

One of our newest members of our community team, Stephanie Strong will be leading the pen charge for this series, and we’ll be gathering the insights and words of others as well – experts, regular people like you and us, and innovators and leaders who seem to be on to something. Did we mention think divergent?

Below Stephanie jumps us off by finding this great video by Sir Robinson and giving us her personal perspective…hope you stay tuned.


Stephanie Strong

“In my personal experience education has been all about passing the test, and getting to the next level. While these are not necessarily bad ideals, the lack of focus on further personal development is, since it is absolutely necessary in today’s world. Besides being a very confusing thing to maneuver, especially in post-secondary education, one of the biggest criticisms about education is that the standards are over-generalized, that they don’t really go to what people and children really need to learn, when they’re ready to learn it. 

While sitting in my daughter’s kindergarten orientation recently, I found it hard to focus entirely on what was being said about preparing her for kindergarten and started to look around and take-in all the things she would be learning over the next year. Judging from the posters on the wall and what was written on the whiteboard in the classroom I can safely assume that my daughter is ahead of the game. She has been working on most of these things for a little over a year now.

My biggest fear is that this may actually hinder her, that her advanced state will go against the grain of the system and she’ll lose as a result. I am worried that being in a classroom full of children at different learning abilities, and with different styles, she may be overlooked because she has met, or will meet quickly, the minimum requirements to move into 1st grade. Her abilities may not be fostered. Where is the way to account for her, or any unique child in our society, and to embrace and value what is unique and special about every human being in our educational system from birth to the grave?

Whatever your belief about education reform, it is a topic that goes beyond important: it is imperative, and so to begin that discussion I invite you to watch RSA brilliantly package a talk given by Sir Ken Robinson on what we need to do – really in education. It is a perfect platform to begin.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what are the top 2 most important aspects of education we must change, your best advice for how to change, and what you plan to do to be part of that change”

Article by Tracy Saville & by Stephanie Strong

What others are saying today about education reform at The Center for Education Reform.


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  • http://www.t2ps.com TK

    Here is a great history of conversation on FB that happened…we didn’t sort it or edit it. Just the way it happened. If you want to see the entire conversation and open of “see more”, go to: https://www.facebook.com/Humansolutionist/posts/119048568233859?notif_t=share_comment

    Jamie Foehr, Jessica Clark and 2 others like this.
    Mike Willert Instead of pondering what could have been…why not aspire to what could be?
    16 hours ago via mobile · Unlike · 1
    Mike Willert BTW, carbon is the basic building block for everything we see, taste, touch and breathe :)
    16 hours ago via mobile · Unlike · 1
    Michael Clark Leave the legacy in the trophy case. We know where to find it. We can look at the greatness that once was as we trundle up the hall to making the awesome that now is.

    Crowdsource the entire curriculum. All of it. If you’re hell-bent on sta…
    See More
    16 hours ago via mobile · Unlike · 1
    Tracy Saville Michael Clark did you just crack the code? Mike Willert so if you really could reboot and imagine what could be – what would you do? And Yes, carbon in the natural world – but when we use it to do unnatural things that burn new bad things i…
    See More
    16 hours ago · Like · 2
    Rik Keller Crowdsource the curriculum? is that some sort of joke?!
    16 hours ago · Like
    Rik Keller Here’s what free market rhetoric has gotten us in our educational system:

    America’s worst educators
    How badly are for-profit schools serving young people? Corinthian Colleges embodies the industry’s worst trends
    16 hours ago · Like ·
    Rik Keller and here’s what ridiculous standardized testing has gotten us: http://www.salon.com/2012/05/25/cheating_runs_rampant/singleton/

    Cheating runs rampant
    No Child Left Behind has unleashed a nationwide epidemic of cheating. Will education reformers wake up?
    16 hours ago · Like ·
    Tracy Saville Hi, Rik. I am fairly certain Michael Clark wasn’t offering it as a joke. Some respect for his perspective is warranted. And he can speak for himself but I am fairly certain that his isn’t a free market rhetoric comment – but a valid suggest…
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    16 hours ago · Like
    Rik Keller I did not equate crowdsourcing with “free market rhetoric”. I was merely pointing to the types of rhetoric that have lead to declines in the educational system. As far as I am concerned though, tossing around empty trendy buzzwords like “cr…
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    15 hours ago via mobile · Like
    Rik Keller And yes, I do react strongly to this. Because 99% of the educational “reform” efforts out there are being sold by the snake-oil types, and are nothing more than rhetorically-appealing, buzzword-laden deceptive efforts to disparage public solutions in favor of lining the pockets of private “reformers.”
    15 hours ago via mobile · Like
    Kathryn Mattingly That would be a fun project. Having had my own school for the creative development of young children, and having developed and run an art enrichment program in my community schools- plus teaching 10 years in out of the box private settings – not to mention being a private tutor in reading, writing, English skills, ESL and art – I have some solid ideas for revamping education !!
    15 hours ago via mobile · Like
    Rik Keller Tracy, if we are talking about “respect,” let’s also talk about respect for the thousands of incredibly hard-working and dedicated education professionals who toil with vastly declining resources and in a poisonous atmosphere of targeted ca…
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    15 hours ago · Like
    Jessica Clark Sincerely a charged topic. A bunch of us stakeholders got together in 2008 with the Governor’s Small Business Advocate and put together a “if I had a magic wand” list on this exact topic. I slapped it up as a post in my blog here http://g
    See More

    Magic Wand list for changing Education in California
    Way back in 2008, I spent several months working with other stakeholders (teache…
    See More
    14 hours ago · Like ·
    Michael Clark Ah. Trendy buzzwords. The bane of all evolved thinkers. So easy to grumble and chuck stones. Some of the absolute best solutions come from committed folks who design, plan, implement, iterate, manage & sustain best of breed solutions that a…
    See More
    14 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1
    Rik Keller Michael: I think you and I may agree on a lot. One thing though, I’m not arguing from a cynical worldview per se (though I do want to avoid continued fleecing of public resources by the snake oil purveyors). All this talk of blowing the sys…
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    13 hours ago via mobile · Unlike · 2
    Rik Keller P.S. I’m all for blowing up “No Child Left Behind,” one of the most disastrous policy initiatives of our time. It was an incredibly cynical subterfuge intended to hasten the demise of the public education system and line the the pockets of …
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    13 hours ago via mobile · Unlike · 1
    Michael Clark Oh, I’m sure we share more in common than not. Totally agree. I can’t stand the snakeoil sales crappers, either.
    13 hours ago · Unlike · 2
    Rick Gott What a great conversation!
    3 hours ago · Like · 1
    Tracy Saville Rik…ah tone is everything!
    about an hour ago via mobile · Like
    Tracy Saville Thanks all to a great conversation!
    about an hour ago via mobile · Like · 1
    Tracy Saville And Rik I will be particularly interested to see your POV as we continue this series, which does frame and define the problems…if you watched the video in this piece you will see the spine of where we are headed. It isn’t so much an expl…
    See More
    about an hour ago via mobile · Like · 1
    Michael Clark Me likey. I can haz more?
    36 minutes ago via mobile · Unlike · 1

  • http://roomtobreathe.biz Jessica Clark

    Yes! The system is BROKEN! And it’s completely up to us to change it and fix it. This blog posts of mine is where a group of stakeholders led by the then CA Governor’s Small Business Advocate created pods to work on Small Business issues. I led the Workforce Development and Education pod. http://goo.gl/Z9j67

    Check out the growth of “Unschooling” and see what Dr. Scott McLeod has to say in his Dangerously Irrelevant blog: http://scottmcleod.net/

    Yeah, I’m all for knowing that when I interview someone with a high school diploma (hell a college degree too!) they will have a basic set of skills. The question is, what do those basic set of skills need to be? And are we best serving our youth by forcing them to move up to the next grade and graduate when they don’t have those skills?

    It’s a complicated topic. Lines of who is responsible for what (parents/teachers/kids/administrators/unions/businesses etc.) come into play. As does job security, fear of retribution, and lots of other big scary words.

    The golden light, though, that we need to aim for, is that learning for the sake of learning, not to get a piece of paper, is our goal. Education is the end, not the means. And reaching that goal, right now, in California and the USA, is going to take a wholesale culture shift. I’m in for the long haul and if anyone whats to come hop on my boat and sail on down that river, come on in!

    Jessica Clark, founder, http://roomtobreathe.biz

    • http://www.t2ps.com TK

      Jessica – thanks so much for the post. You’ve hit the nail on the head: standards have always been about values, but we never really defined what it was we valued, other than getting as many through the system as we possibly could in a way that was fair to all, without honoring individuality, strengths, capacity for learning at advanced levels without boundaries of what and when, and it goes on. The statement, “We only have so much money, and we have to have some yardstick by which to measure advancement; we can’t be expected to pay special attention to everyone,” suggests a set of unconscious values of mediocrity, just good enough to keep our current economic systems running, and fairness turns out to be reverse discrimination – by trying to give all a fair shot in the mis-aligned system of A’s which mean nothing but short term retention of information that has nothing to do with real human learning or development – we totally ignore the immense, under-developed and untapped value of all that capacity of millions of human beings and children because we’ve set our standards on the system instead on the human beings and what we really want each and every one of us to be capable of contributing.

      We really appreciate the resources you provide here – we used to do work in workforce development – policy and program development and delivery from homelessness to career placement – and if more citizenry were as engaged and versed as you are on the candid aspects of issues, we’d be further along the path. Thank you so much for sharing!