Tuesday, March 20, 2012

When we stop stealing dreams, what do we do instead?

Editor’s note: My friend Penelope Trunk did a provocative review of Seth Godin’s new book, “Stop Stealing Dreams” where she calls him out on his ideas about education reform and homeschooling. The following post is my comment on her blog. You can read her response here.

Seth Godin does a good job of pointing out many of the flaws with institutionalized, compulsory schooling, but he does little to move the conversation toward a vision of what a school should or could look like today. It’s ironic, for example, that he picks Harlem Village Academies as a beacon of what a “good school” is. Despite Godin’s criticism of standardization rather than customization, and his disdain for testing, he highlights a school that has an “About me” page that celebrates students standardized test scores!

Why isn’t Godin pointing to models that solve the issues he addresses but our government refuses to fund for those who choose public school? The answers already exists with places like Democratic Schools, North Star Teens, Nuestra Escuela, Raw Learning or models like Schoolwide Enrichment that are being pushed aside by our multi-billion dollar testing industry.  The fact that Godin comes out against home education spewing mainstream myths and misconceptions was also disappointing. Particularly so because the unschooling end of the home ed spectrum beautifully addresses most of the problems Seth identifies with schools.

Seth isn't addressing the fact that the reality in the 21st century is that we no longer need traditional teachers to teach us or schools to certify or credential us. Applications like KnowIt! and organizations like Rad Matter are allowing students themselves, not school-issued report cards or transcripts, to demonstrate knowledge and ability.

When we realize education is no longer tied to places, but rather to people, a completely new way to learn can emerge. Of course, the system is doing everything it can to keep itself alive in its current form. As a result, instead of empowering young people with the freedom to learn, our school system bans and blocks them from having access to the technology and sites they need to make this learning occur. But, we don’t have to wait. More and more parents of various income levels, race, and employment status are waking up and taking back their right to provide their children with the best learning experiences possible right now. They are home educators and they are committed to doing what is best for their children despite what outsiders perceive as challenges. I invite anyone interested in learning more to join the conversation with hundreds of parents from around the world finding success at https://www.facebook.com/groups/homeschoolingunschooling/

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