When will schools change?

All of us blogging about much-needed changes in schooling, educating and learning are in the front seat of a car. We are looking out the windshield (windscreen) and seeing the road ahead. A bend in the road is not an end in the road for us because we see how to make the turn. We foresee the exits before we get to them and take the off ramp before it's too late. Because we see what's coming before it gets here, we function as visionaries, prophets and entrepreneurs for the other passengers.

All of those who are slow to adopt or opposed to changes are in the back seat of the same car. They are short sighted and can only see what's in the rear view mirror. If they turn around, they can look out the rear window. They don't see the bend in the road or the exit until it's too late. The lag effect from not seeing what's coming -- makes them unresponsive, slow to turn and incapable of proactive solutions. Because they keep the car on the straight and narrow road, they function as bureaucrats, factory workers and administrators.

Schools will change when the need to change shows up in the rear view mirror. The economy and culture will already have made the turn and changed direction without the proper education to do so. The know how to invent new models, enterprises and social constructs will not reflect how the innovators were taught, graded or indoctrinated. The change agents will have gotten their education from what works (evidence based), what seems inspired (unconscious guidance) and what makes the most sense at the time (reflective practice).

What road will we be on when the need to change will be obvious to the back seat drivers? Here's what I'm foreseeing:

  • The digital economy will become a creative economy where everyone is consciously creating their experiences
  • The network infrastructure we call the Internet will be called the SafetyNet as we utilize our world wide connectivity to support anyone who is giving their talents to create safety in the offline world of danger, deprivation and disconnection
  • The Wild West experiences of the online world will become synchronistic experiences of an inline world -- where what consistently shows up serves what we need right now

Then all of us that have had so much to say about Web 2.0, eLearning, and School 2.0 will be able to say "I told you so" when schools finally catch on or fizzle out.


  1. I like your thinking here--that systemic change in education will only occur when there is direct need as seen by the most affected stakeholders. Those stakeholders are obviously not us. We see the need. In actuality, I hope it's the students.

    If we have truly done our job of preparing students for life, then taking hold of their learning might be a natural outgrowth of that. Our system as it is now is set up so that our students are just passengers along for an educational tour of content. Until we put them in a position to pilot the tour themselves, that rear-view mirror will look mighty clear.

  2. In my view schools will not and cannot change until unions and union mentality is removed from the system. They will not change because there is no incentive for the vast majority of educators to do so. Even the entrepreneurial minds in the system that want to make a change are fighting an uphill battle. Make schools compete for customers (parents and students) like companies do on the open market and innovation is surely to happen.

  3. Patrick: Thanks for adding a comment here. I agree the students are passengers, or worse. I recently characterized the learners as migrant workers who are left behind if the fall off the flatbed truck. For students to become stakeholders, while in school, they need the freedom of a democratic process to choose their destiny. While they are held captive by servitude and feudalism, this seems unlikely. My hope rests in the education students are getting from the culture, technology changes and social-web, all empowering them to choose, create and collaborate.

    Kevin: Thanks for bringing an entrepreneurial perspective into this. Besides the union mentality, there is a mind set from "government mandated schooling" which shuts down a free market for learning. It's possible that entrepreneurs will figure out ways around these obstacles -- like getting education from sellers on eBay, or through text messages on cell phones. There must be a way to set up an underground market while the planned curricula runs like clockwork. The systematic oppression of free market dynamics can only restrict competition and thwart innovation to those who take the oppression literally.