Education Change Agents

I had a meeting yesterday with a group of both educators and students from around the world. We discussed the “new” challenges facing schools given the coronavirus health emergency and brainstormed, discussed some possible solutions and next steps.

During the meeting, I couldn’t help thinking back on a similar moment in time, circa late 2000s and we were all full of promise about the new future awaiting education because of ICT and the promise held by Web 2.0 and connecting with others and an open world of information.

I couldn’t help thinking about how that promise didn’t truly blossom and that here we were again once more, trying to re-invent the wheel. Or that we might wrongly build the wheel – in the meeting Duolingo was used as an example of the potential we might reach … that made me feel defeated. But that’s another blog post.

So with this in mind, I’d like to remind many who are thinking about new ways of teaching, delivering knowledge and content – who are thinking of how best to change the fundamentals of education …. I’d like to remind us all of those out there who’ve already done a lot of the leg work.

I’ll share this list to my international working group (the project hasn’t been named yet) so we can stand on the shoulders of these giants. I think this list might help many out there involving themselves in educational reform. Reform isn’t new. What will be new is if real, structural educational reform does happen.

Recommended People, Resources, References and Readings.

  1. Steve Hargadon. Classroom 2.0 and much more. Steve has challenged many basic assumptions about education and led communities of change. See his Learning Revolution conference.
  2. Sugata Mitra. Love him or hate him, this scientist has challenged us to organize learning openly with student independence in mind. See his SOLE – Self – Organizing Learning Environments concept and his famous Hole In The Wall experiment. This lecture, The Future Of Learning is a must watch.
  3. John Taylor Gatto. Once N.Y. States teacher of the year, he came to realize the wrong direction schooling was taking and wrote about the causes and steps we need to take to enjoy truly educational freedom. See his Purposes Of Schooling. For Gatto, school has far outlived its original purpose.
  4. Diane Ravitch. Educational historian and policy expert. She has written extensively on the troubles with schooling, especially private education.
  5. Kieran Egan. Canadian thinker about curriculum and design he espouses a very personalized approach to education and his LID – Learning In Depth project is fundamental to a new approach to curriculum.
  6. ISTE. The International Society of Technology in Education has important information, standards and advice for all educators delivering lessons online. See their blog.
  7. Will Richardson. Always in your face honest, Will has worked hard at institutional change in education and for changing education to meet the needs of a fast changing future.
  8. Michael Horn. A noted authority on blended learning, he challenges education to move more towards this model and allow students more independent learning with teacher guidance.
  9. Vicki Davis. American educator known as the Cool Cat Teacher who promotes unique approaches to education. She’s been around a long time and is a voice to listen to.
  10. Audrey Watters. She tells you as it is and points out many of the foibles and faults in ed tech. See her blog Hack Education and her classic 100 debacles of Ed Tech.
  11. Lawrence Lessig. Harvard phenom, lawyer and advocate for more open copyright laws and access. Creative Commons founder with Aaron Schwartz. Brillant mind and to be listened to on all issues about the students’ and teachers rights to information. His this talk.
  12. Richard Stallman. See his 4 freedoms. Fundamental organizer regarding free, open access to software. GNU founder. Here he explains his position.
  13. Sir Ken Robinson. The “Sir” says it all. He’s promoted the value of “full body” education and creativity for years and a definite agent of change. See his – Do Schools Kill Creativity? Also, his podcast Learning From Home.

In the coming days, I’ll be adding to this list (my hour of personal time is up!). So come back for more info. on references to those changing education as we speak.

Articles, Books, Ebooks

Teachers. Who needs them? – Food for thought from Andrew Finch, a professor of education in Korea.

After Deschooling. What? – Ivan Illich. A seminal thinker on how we can create the environment so students can learn without school or outside of school.

Teaching As A Subversive Activity. Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner. Especially important short book about creating curriculum that is more open and focused on student potentiality.


Also published on Medium.

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