1) What if we eliminated public schools as we know them?
What if parents were provided with smaller, more personalized community schooling options in lieu of our current “mass production” schooling campuses. Think of it as a revival of the one-room school house, except maybe a two story multi-bedroom house instead. Instead of building new schools, we could occupy houses that already exist. We could virtually eliminate the need for bussing by establishing small schools within the neighborhoods of the students they serve. Could this option be more cost effective, more ready to meet the needs of our diverse student populations?
2) What if we eliminated textbooks?
What if we spent more time at the university level teaching our preservice teachers about the human brain, psychology, and about the way we learn. What if we spent more time developing the skill of questioning and based all of our instruction on questions about the world around us – what is current to our life? What if teachers spent the entire day in the teachable moment rather than just the stolen minutes of a given period? What if schools funneled education dollars into experiences rather than workbooks?
3) What if we eliminated grades and other external motivators?
What if we focused on developing the child internally: raising their social awareness, their sense of responsibility to themselves and others. What if we assessed their academic progress with rubrics rather than percents? Would universities and employers have a greater understanding of their applicants skills and traits?
4) What if we eliminated grade levels?
What if we eliminated the beginning and end of a school year, the school year with one teacher. What if schools were one fluid, floating experience where your developmental readiness guided your path rather than a calendar. You might have students of various ages learning the same concepts as you. You would be free to move forward or slow down when necessary. Would you feel confident and competent when moving to the new subject because you were allowed to reach your potential in your own time?
Perhaps these are radical questions when we think about education in its current state today. Education reform is particularly slow and painful. Perhaps the reason reform has been so slow is that we don’t have enough radical thinkers out there speaking their minds about their passion for education.
What do you guys think about these questions? Do you have any radical what ifs of your own?