Boxing Day is past, but every day is a good day for some out-of-the-box thinking.
This evening, via a daisy chain of tweets, I landed on Seth Godin’s blog and this post.
If you want to know if a ship is going to sink, watch what the richest passengers do.
iTunes and file sharing killed Tower Records. The key symptom: the best customers switched.
Of course people who were buying 200 records a year would switch. They had the most incentive. The alternatives were cheaper and faster mostly for the heavy users.
Amazon and the Kindle have killed the bookstore. Why? Because people who buy 100 or 300 books a year are gone forever. The typical American buys just one book a year for pleasure. Those people are meaningless to a bookstore. It’s the heavy users that matter, and now officially, as 2009 ends, they have abandoned the bookstore. It’s over.
When law firms started switching to fax machines, Fedex realized that the cash cow part of their business (100 or 1000 or more envelopes per firm per day) was over and switched fast to packages. Good for them.
If your ship is sinking, get out now. By the time the rats start packing, it’s way too late.
My friends, meet gifted homeschoolers.
It’s been my hunch for some time that people who are choosing to homeschool their gifted kids for academic reasons are the leading edge of a deeper shift. It’s why we have the pushback from folks like Ms. West on the one hand, and Dr. Grasmick on the other. The homeschoolers I know might not necessarily be rich, but by and large they are pretty smart. And they’ve voted with their feet.
Godin’s post rocked me back because it comes on the heels of a series of recent posts at Teach Paperless that I’ve been mulling over. R. Richard Wojewodzki/Shelly Blake-Plock started off with a riff on those predictable end-of-the-decade pieces, with his titled “21 Things that will be Obsolete in Education by 2010.” On the list (and you can see expanded explanations on his blog):
- Language Labs
- The Role of Standardized Tests in College Admissions
- Differentiated Instruction as the Sign of a Distinguished Teacher
- Fear of Wikipedia
- Attendance Offices
- IT Departments
- Centralized Institutions
- Organization of Educational Services by Grade
- Education School Classes that Fail to Integrate Social Technology
- Paid/Outsourced Professional Development
- Current Curricular Norms
- Parent-Teacher Conference Night
- Typical Cafeteria Food
- Outsourced Graphic Design and Webmastering
- High School Algebra I
And then there is this thought-provoking post by another late evening Twitter find, Gregory S. Thompson at Constructing Meaning.com
What is needed is change. Not just painting a new color over the old, but a drastic overhaul. I regularly use the phrase reimagining or rethinking school. The globalization of economies, the disappearance of barriers to global communication, and the rapid expansion of knowledge make Vanessa’s statement a rather obvious reality.
However, not so in education. Education is a hot-bed of status-quo, and the institutional creep that describes the method of change in our educational institutions, from kindergarten to our Universities, will insure a continuing free-fall in innovative thinking in this country.
What is needed? We need to “rethink” school. We need to begin with our long-held belief that schools, and education, is one of our greatest accomplishments of thought. From there we need to remove everything from the table and begin to answer the question, “What should be the purpose of schooling?” Put another way, answering the age-old question, “When are we ever going to need to know this?” Students have been asking this from the beginning of school. More often than not, the question is ignored or answered with a flippant, “You just will, I promise you.” If, as educators, we can’t answer that question definitively we have stop immediately and ask ourselves a core question of educational rethinking, “Why, ARE, we teaching this?”
“Education is a hotbed of status quo.” I love that.
Learning–not education–is where it’s at.