Sunday, July 15, 2012

19 bold (not old) ideas for change

At ISTE 2012 Will Richardson did an ignite session (5 minutes / 20 slides) where he shared 20 bold ideas for change. The presentation was powerful and fast.  In case you blinked or sneezed, below the video are his ideas with commentary intertwined from us both. 

  1. Forget open book / phone tests.
    Let’s have open network assessments where students can use the tools they own and love for learning. School should not be a place where we force kids to unplug and disconnect from the world.
  2. Stop wasting money on textbooks.
    Make your own texts with things like wikis.
  3. Google yourself
    If we’re not empowering ourselves and our students to be Google well, we’re not doing a good job.
  4. Flip the power structure from adults to learners
    Empower students with the tools and resources they need to go where they want to go and explore and develop their interests and passions.
  5. Don’t do work for the classroom
    Support learners in doing work that is worthy of, can exist in, and can change the world.
  6. Stop telling kids to do their own work
    That’s not reality any longer.  Support them in collaborating, interacting, and cooperating with others.  
  7. Learn first. Teach second.
    We must come into our classrooms knowing that we are learners first. If we think we are teachers first, we are not giving our students the powerful learning models they’ll need to be successful.  
  8. No more how-to workshops
    Educators should know how to find out how to on their own. When we come together it should be to talk about how we are doing.  
  9. Share everything
    The best work of you and your students should be shared online. This will help us all get better.
  10. Ask questions you don’t know the answer to
    The learning of high stakes tests with predetermined answers is not as powerful as the learning that comes from finding our own new and unique answers.
  11. Believe that you want to be found by strangers on the internet
    If you think kids aren’t going to interact with strangers on the internet, you’re wrong. Let’s embrace that and support kids in being smart when doing so and learning a lot about the minds they are meeting.
  12. Rethink the role of the teacher
    We should not be doing the same work that 20th century teachers did. Consider how technology can and should change our roles.
  13. Toss the resume
    No one cares about your resume anymore. The internet is the new resume. What will people find when they look at who you are online? That is what you should be focusing on.
  14. Go beyond Google to learn
    Build your personal learning network and learn with and from the people you know via places like Twitter and Facebook.
  15. Go free and open source
    We have a budget crises, yet schools are wasting millions on things that are offered for free.
  16. Create an UnCommon Core
    Don’t ask how you will meet the common core, empower kids to think about how they will change the world.
  17. Stop delivering the curriculum
    This is no longer necessary.  Information can be accessed without a teacher.  Move beyond delivery to discovery.
  18. Be subversive
    When Lisa (was he talking about me?) is told to do a standardized test, stand up and say NO! We have to be disruptive and push back.
  19. Stand up and scream
    Tell everyone that education is not about publishers and politicians but rather it’s about what students and parents want and how teachers can best give that to them.

So, what do you think? Which ideas resonate with you and how will you start to implement them in your environment?


  1. I think that lists make for great posts that will get a lot of hits and mentions on Twitter.

  2. Thank you for sharing! I whole-heartily agreed with the presentation. Education is going through major changes right now - changes that require us to think differently as to what our role as educators is.

    A couple things that struck me were:

    1. No more how-to workshops - I agree with the statement as the best PD for me is stuff I find over the internet via social media. However, many of my colleagues are not so inclined. For example, I had a fellow teacher tell me that he wasn't willing to try a new web tool I showed him but rather he was going to wait for someone else to do the work. Yikes!

    2. Be subversive - ummmm... not too sure about this one either as in our province we just went through a year of contract uncertainty in education. One of the items the government was pushing for was "teacher suitability". The government was very vague about the details of this new policy but many of us were taking that as open season on teachers - in other words if you didn't tow the line you could be declared 'unsuitable' and see a significant change in job placement with only 2 weeks notice. I can't see teachers in our province willing to stick their necks out even though in the best interests of students, it is the right thing to do.

    Again thank you for sharing a thought-provoking ISTE12 session.

  3. My first thought is about the community we find ourselves in, we recognize a need for change and our students are begging for it but many parents and our community voice is often opposed to this change rather wishing for the status quo that can be controlled and tested as we keep young adults in a holding pattern for as long as possible. I think this group needs to be engaged as we take charge and responsibility for education that recognizes the non-linear nature of education and the joy it can bring.

  4. VERY REFRESHING and Good post!

  5. Some great points but I will challenge some:

    8. No more how-to workshops

    This would make the assumption that every teacher is at the same point. I get the idea and that it may be low level thinking, but some teachers need the "how-to" workshops. Not everyone is at the same point and we have to honour that teachers, like students, are on different paths. I can accept that as an administrator as long as I am seeing movement.

    13. Toss the resume

    I love this idea and I am someone who looks at a prospective employees online footprint, but do you think that this is the norm with administrators? Really? Great idea but I hate to tell you that most people who are hiring still look at resumes at the school level. You can be subversive and say that I will not give a resume, but you could also say that you don't like working as well. Some expect it. I wish we were at that point with most school admin but we are nowhere near that.

    17. Stop delivering the curriculum

    I am not sure what Will means by this. As teachers, we have to "teach" or "deliver" the curriculum. You can still be innovative and discover within the curriculum to some extent. Again, how do we work within our system and create change within? The expectations in most areas is that teachers are evaluated on how they teach the curriculum. Ignoring it will, unfortunately make certain that you will not have a job.

    This is easy advice to give if you are outside of the school system but what about those that are working within it? How do we create transformative change while still working within the system. I believe that it is possible and work on doing it every day.

    Just my two cents.

    1. George, you are dead on with #13. If you are looking for a teaching job in a number of public school systems in the United States, you often have to fill out an online application and include your resume, or else you will not even be considered for the job. If you are looking for a non-teaching job, most want ads/job listings still request a resume.

      Furthermore, if you go on an interview, it is still very likely that the person interviewing you will have a copy of your resume in his hand and sometimes will even ask you questions based on what is on that resume.

      The resume is still important. Why? Because it is a quick-reference "one sheet" about you. The person who is looking to hire someone for that position may not have the time to sit down and search through your digital presence, so you need something that is not just going to catch their eye but is going to give as much of a true look at you. Resumes do that with the least amount of effort on the hirer/interviewer's part.

  6. "Stop telling kids to do their own work. That’s not reality any longer. Support them in collaborating, interacting, and cooperating with others. "

    1.) The ability to do things alone is as important as ability to work in teams. The teamwork is often split into team members and each do his part more or less independently. Plus, small projects are often done by one man/woman.

    A team member unable to work alone for a day or two is usually drag for the whole team. Real teams rarely cooperates that closely as simulated in group work environment.

    2.) Watching other kid to solve the problem or do the project does not teach you a lot. And it happens often if you happen to be the slower kid.

    I know, because I was always slower in foreign languages. I made a lot of mistakes, so more skilled member usually took initiative and did most of the work. He discovered and solved, I was watching and did remaining busy work (presentation, pictures or whatever). We spend equal time working, but one of us learned more.

    Solving problem by yourself makes you remember it better and it trains your ability to solve problems. That is why some teachers want kids to do work by themselves. So the kid in question would learn from the exercise while his friend that did the work instead of him will not (because he already knows the topic and the whole exercise is just easy busywork for him).

  7. As an educator, I believe it is very important to teach material that is important for the future of the students. When inventing my math and memory system Brainetics (, I wanted to focus on new subjects and innovative methods to teach. By teaching for the 21st century, students will be more prepared in the future. It seems like so many aspects of today’s society centers around the digital environment and teaching should be altered to adapt.

    Great article,

    Mike Byster
    Inventor of Brainetics, Educator, Author of Genius, Mathematician

  8. Stand up and Scream sounds good, reminds me of the Bill Murray turrets scene in What about Bob. Always room for more jokes, :).

  9. This is a list of what HoneyFern does now and what I did when I was still in the public school classroom (to much hue and cry but with stellar test scores, which I could not have cared less about).

    I think these ideas sound drastic but the most difficult part is the paradigm shift required to make them actually happen. You get a lot of pushback when trying something new, and administrations don't give much time to see if it works; results are either instantaneous, or the idea is dead in the water. Teachers are nervous about trying something that takes away from teaching to the test that will determine their salaries, and parents want their kids taught the way they were taught. Rather than just throwing these ideas into the classroom, some schools need to pilot small groups of teachers who are willing to take the heat and teach themselves if necessary; I don't think school districts will adopt these ideas altogether. That would mean that they trusted their teachers as professionals and believed that students could be responsible for their own learning.

  10. Enjoy the conversation happening in these comments... Glad to see so many educators participating in these discussions!


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