What do you get when you combine a starfish, Napster, Kazaa, home-schools, spiders, organizations, internships, the Department of Education, and e-learning? Let's put them in the Education Innovation blender and take a look?
In my previous post, I explored the idea of what I call the Open Model of Education (OME) and the Closed Model of Education (CME).
Oddly enough, I began re-reading a book I read last summer, The Starfish and The Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom.
As I dove in, I was happily surprised to see right in Chapter 1, a discussion that tied in directly to my thinking on OME vs. CME.
“A centralized organization is easy to understand. Think of any major company or governmental agency . You have a clear leader who’s in charge, and there’s a specific place where decisions are made (the boardroom, the corporate headquarters, city hall). Nevins calls this organizational type coercive because the leaders call the shots."
Education today, attempts to control where students learn, what they learn, when they learn, and whom they learn from. Our educational system is the very definition of a centralized organization. The federal Department of Education tells the states what to do. State departments of education tell the counties what to do, counties tell the districts what to do, districts tell the principals, the principals tell the teachers, and the teachers tell the students. It is very structured, very systematic, very controlled, very rigid, and very closed.
“In a decentralized organization, there’s no clear leader, no hierarchy, and no headquarters.”
“Nevins calls this an open system, because everyone is entitled to make his or her own decisions. This doesn’t mean that a decentralized system is the same as anarchy. There are rules and norms, but these aren’t enforced by any one person. Rather, the power is distributed among all the people and across geographic regions.”
If you view the student as a leaders of their own learning, then they have the ability to decided for themselves the what, when, where, who, and how of their education. They must follow and meet certain expectations and norms, but they are not controlled by a centralized organization. A student is free to blend normal brick-and-mortar school, with home-school, with e-learning or virtual learning, occupational or trade schools, with other opportunities such as travel, trips to museums, internships, volunteering, etc. This blend is what I call the Open Model of Education. It closely matches the spirit of what the authors describe in the decentralized organization.
The time has come to stop resisting home school, occupational school, e-learning and virtual schooling, and view them as partners. Resisting is not going to work, and can create a situation in which each is working in isolation and competing against each other. Think of the recording industry fighting sites like Napster, Kazaa, or eMule.
The time has come to see all of us as sharing a role and a responsibility in the education of our students. We should be partnering with each other, not resisting or fighting against the other. If education or the student is the goal, there are multiple routes and means of reaching that education. If teaching is the goal, we will all fight for the limited resources or money, materials, time, and most importantly, the students themselves.
The time for the blended model of the Open Model of Education (OME) has arrived.
In what ways can we view each other as partners in the education of a student and not rivals in the teaching of a student?
What mistakes have we made in the past that we can learn from to improve education in the future?
What hunches do you have that can be applied to improving the future of education? How might things change or look like if your hunches are correct?
What “sacred cows” must be sacrificed for the betterment of our education system?
How might your persistence make a difference?
How might reversing our/your current approach or philosophy to education make an impact?
In the current era of education bashing, what is still viable and productive? In what ways could be take the good and throw out the bad?
In what ways are our typical approaches and view getting in the way of what could be possible?
What unintended consequences might come from the implementation of the OME? What unintended consequences do we already suffer from in the CME? What can do be done to prepare for or repair these consequences?
What underlying principles are at work in this discussion?