What is School For?

Seth Godin  asked this question at a TEDxYouth event this past year and the response was overwhelming. The Youtube video, seen here,  evoked passionated educators, businesses, and the general public to address the question and the responses are overwhelming, which begs me to ask you, "What is School For"?

Godin explains that the structure of the school has been in place due to The Industrial Age. Students were pulled to school to get them to be good societal workers, and after graduation work at a factory. Because the factory owners didn't have enough workers and farmers scoffed at the idea of punching in and punching out, schools were formed. Hmmm. Wow. Talk about a punch to the system. 

Watch it here:

So, what are schools for? This blog is about finding out just that and finding out what experts in the field think needs to be done to make education the best it can be. Break down the structure, seems to be Godin's response. Emphasize learning through doing, and learning from failing. Stop staring at text books.

So, to transform education, where do we begin? And can we see the end?

I think of Daniel Pink and how he writes that we are moving into the Conceptual Age. To be successful, Pink states that people need to think of problems that haven't even yet come about. Schools need to prepare students to do what computers or machines can't, and do what can't be outsourced cheaper overseas. 

Or my buddy Einstein who said you can't solve problems with the same thinking used to create them.

Breaking Down The Structure

Schools are very factory-like: rows, bells, 5 minute breaks. So, how can we better use this space that creates a more student-centered environment, allows for a 21st Century focus, and still supervises children (for k-12) while parents are at work?

Tamra Excell of Personalized Education Group wonders if buildings were to act more as learning centers would students be more driven to excel. Students would enter the building and would use curriculum for the day based on the student and school's agreed-upon track. Then, they go to the location of choice which could be a science lab with a certified teacher as facilitator or a laptop linked to Khan Academy. 

Just take a quick look around and you can see this happening with Knewton, CourseraKhan Academy, and other business ventures. 

What are your thoughts on this? Please remember to stay polite and respond within the domains of respectful discourse. We're all in this together.