Not that long ago, Jaden Smith encouraged everyone paying attention on the web via Twitter to drop out of school. The son of the famous actor, Will Smith tried his hand at being an educational philosopher at the end of this past September. This is actually nothing new in the realm of public education.
Part of having a public education system is having that system open to public opinion and scrutiny. Yet, social media as well as traditional forms of electronic media erupted almost immediately after the original Tweet was sent.
Of course Smith’s own education in a Scientology based school started and funded by Will Smith was brought up. Then his expertise in the field was brought into the discussion. This quick 1-2 combination quickly knocked out the discussion.
Sadly, the topic expired before it had time to breathe.
However, this discussion does actually go back a little bit further and farther. In 2009 speaking In Ventura to help save public libraries in California, the late science fiction author Ray Bradbury said, “I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”
It should be remembered as well that Bradbury composed his famous novel Fahrenheit 451 on a pay-as-you-go typewriter in the basement of a Los Angeles County public library. Libraries were created to be the free universities for us all. They are now crowded with patrons using computers to use social media.
Looking past the obvious content in these two statements, perhaps there is more truth and prescience in these two statements than what has been afforded.
With each election season, education is brought out into the light of day and dusted off again. The same tired rhetoric is revived. Increased test scores, better competitiveness on the international stage, and a greater increase in the amount of college graduate.
This is where Insurgent Instruction comes in handy, outside of the classroom and for adult learners. Once we, as a nation, can move past the bling of standardized testing and the necessity of “college for everyone,” the reality begins to become apparent.
What we are searching for is ingenuity. Ingenuity is just creativity wrapped in a plain brown wrapper. This cannot be taught, but can be cultivated. We were able to do it once as a nation, and we can do it again.
First, blow up technology. Cut the cords and let the teachers and students play. Classrooms need to be studios. Teachers are Master Students. Students are Apprentices. It is a paradigm shift, but one which we can make as a nation.
Two, let’s compare apples to apples. Our nation does not have the same foundations as Europe or Asia. These are intriguing continents with interesting countries. They do some things good, and others very well. Yet, we are not them, and they are not us. Apple does not attempt to be Microsoft, and vice versa.
Third, read and write…read and write…read and write. Reading includes comic books and magazine. Writing includes drawing with words as well as composing songs.
Reading exposes us to new ideas, new worlds, and wonderfully different points of views. Reading only costs time. Libraries are free. Reading fuels the imagination. Imagination is the basis for innovation and ingenuity.
Standards are merely guidelines and suggestions. In the classroom, everything is up for negotiation in order to achieve the goal.
And the goal is to ensure that learning is going on. Learning is when something new is created, and understanding is something new.
In the end, perhaps is what is saddest is that a great learning opportunity for our nation sped past us all at the speed of social media. It was the perfect opportunity for Insurgent Instruction.