Thursday, August 5, 2010

Education Unbound - My Take-Aways

Having recently finished Education Unbound by Frederick Hess as part of Scott McLeod's summer book group, I wanted to share a few of the many interesting insights made by Hess.

While the book was somewhat reminiscent of Disrupting Class with an underlying message being that the innovation needed to have the schools our children need can never come from within the current model, it also hit upon a new idea in regards to "greenfield" schooling.

The opening sentences of Chapter 1explain the term "greenfield." "Greenfield is a term of art typically used by investigators, engineers, or builders to refer to an area where there are unobstructed, wide-open opportunities to invent or build.  It is not a term one hears much in K-12 education."

A Few Of My Other Favorite Quotes From The Book

From the Preface - "Aggressively squeezing out inefficiency is not pro- or anti-schooling; it is simply responsible stewardship of both students and schools."

p. 11 - ..."if 'risk' refers to the likelihood that schools will leave children ill-served, thousands of today's schools are terribly risky..."

p.14 "Even when everyone agrees change is essential, it is enormously difficult to upend established institutions."

p.22 "A Jeffersonian version of democracy...expects arrangements to be temporary and institutions to be re-thought fundamentally as times and needs change."

p.63 "For a new models of school and schooling we will probably need to look mainly to people new to education and now outside it."

p.99 "The greenfield challenge is to squeeze more juice from the orange by using support staff and technology to allow effective educators to devote more of their time to educating."

A Simple Action Plan

My action plan is neither innovative or complicated.  It is to find out what the most important people in our schools (our students) think about our need to change.  This point was highlighted in our School Improvement Plan for the upcoming school year under School Culture and Leadership. We need much more input from our students as we move towards a truly inclusive environment.  We have tremendous students with amazing ideas and it is time for us to engage them in meaningful discussions about the future of our fine school.

Making the transition to a 1:1 environment will provide us numerous opportunities for this.  We have new tools to help all of the stakeholders become more involved than ever in charting the direction of our school. It is the most exciting time ever to be involved in education! I look forward to our ongoing work to provide the most relevant high school education possible for the students of Burlington.

My next post will outline some of the ways that every member of our school community can have a voice.  In the meantime I encourage you all to get a Twitter account, a Google account, and a Facebook account. At the very least, I hope you are willing to utilize one of these social media tools to stay engaged in the conversation about our schools.

1 comment:

  1. I find the use of technology to be quite versatile. A week ago I took a course at WPI on Audacity and Skype with colleagues in my department. I was able to download these two vital tools on my home computer for free. I used Skype to contact family members who live out of state. Not only can we use these tools in our classrooms, but we have the conveniences of using them for our own personal usage in our homes.