September 04, 2010

Innovation and the invention of Phoenix High School

We are now at a point where it's clearly time to do the right thing in schools.

I bought a copy of the book Horace's Compromise by Ted Sizer the other day. I paid 49¢ for it at Goodwill. I've been on the lookout for Sizer books for a few months, and finally found one. I haven't read the whole book yet, but the issues it confronts regarding reform are the same issues we still discuss in education today. Horace's Compromise was written in 1984.

Schools are much the same that they were several years ago. I don't think my high school experience was much different from the kids who graduated with the Class of 2010. I graduated with the Class of 1990. Maybe there are more computers available in schools and better technology, but what happens in the classroom is much the same.

Few teachers are innovative in enhancing their instruction with the media available to them. Some educators still consider technology a passing fad and believe they don't need to use it. But, the kids we're teaching will need it in just about any profession they pursue. In fact, we still haven't realized that it's the kids and their educations that count!

Now college, college has changed. Maybe colleges were challenged by Phoenix University, the online education you can earn and never have to step foot on a college campus. I cannot believe that we do not have a Phoenix High School yet. Perhaps we do, as several home schooled students may work from some online options.

My college experience in the 1990s is much different than my daughter Amber's experience today. Just a few areas of difference: more interaction with the professor via electronic means; research is much more simplified as students do not need to go to the physical library to research; more interaction with classmates via technology (simpler form of collaboration). The job at the college or university is to get students ready for a career.

Education is changing. It has to. If we don't embrace students' needs … somebody else will.

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