What the revolution looks like, elsewhere

Today I was talking with my great friend and school redesigner Antonia Rudenstine about the slow pace of the educational revolution in America.  How even among large school districts and folks who have a lot of policy muscle, the vision is still pretty small, pretty conventional, pretty much about teacher-centered instruction, using test scores to show improvement, and blaming kids when the adults fail.  So 1990s.

Yes we’re brave and visionary and putting it on the line, but , by our lack of knowledge about what is going on elsewhere in the world, a world that really has a lot to teach us about how learning for kids might look different from the old Industrial model (ko wounds of schooling) to one where kids get together with their teachers everyday to figure out what is going to be learned, and how.  Where school is a process, not a place.  . To move away from teacher centered models of education to collaborative ones, they’ve made school practice examplars readily available.  It’s just not that big a deal to hear people talk about “never going back to the old way.”  Despite our greater connectivity, we still seem outposty, marginally-statused–some of our best reformers are still seem insular, like they’re just getting it.  We may be brave, outposty, speak in many voices, but are we well connected enough to each other to make a coherent movement?  Monika, the things you are experimenting with in terms of curriculum design, relationships between teachers and students, are happening at Galvin Park Secondary College, where teachers and students 7-12 get together everyday and co-create curriculum, relationships, school culture.

In Victoria, Australia they are doing it a different way. The the Minster of Education, in conjuction with some visionary leaders has been working strategicially and systematically, for the past five years, to bring

“intranet” learning to all of its 1200 schools. They just introduced the model and you can read how Darrell Fraser is trying to get ready for their big roll out in just a few days.

“student cented electronic learning environments, that support high quality learning and teaching, connect students, and teachers and parent and enables efficient knowledge transer.’ They are doing it to scale. In May 2010 they piloted the intranet to 500 schools and will ultimately bring it to all 1200.

The Victoria Department has strategically moved away from teacher centered models of education to ones in which students and teachers are collaborating with each other around curriculum design, school culture, and the future of education.

My learning partner Richard Elmore, who works closely with them, figures that Victoria is about two and a half generations ahead of any school district or system in the U.S.

It can be done. Why are we so insular?  Why do we have to bravely do it all by ourselves, on the margins, as if no one else is?

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