I thoroughly enjoyed the book, “Why School?” by Will Richardson. I appreciated his forward thinking that is being framed around the changing world around us. With how quickly technology is changing, with how easily we can have unknown information at our fingertips in a matter of seconds, and with how we have morphed into an instant gratification society, it is important to realize that teaching in education can no longer be what it used to be when I was growing up. The first example he uses of his son playing Minecraft for the first time was a great illustration of how kids not only can, but want to learn when it is something of interest to them. They become hunters of information and start utilizing resources available to them to guide them down a path that satisfies that hunger for learning. In what ways can we reform our schools so that students are excited about learning?
I would love for schools to take on the “new school” approach because it “allows for students to have more ownership over their own learning” (Richardson, 267). It includes the forward thinking of focusing “less on what students know, and more on what they can do with what they know” (Richardson, 280). I realize this may be a hard concept for traditional teachers who are teaching their students the same way that their teachers taught them when they were students. However, for those who welcome change, for those who embrace technology, for those who enjoy networking with others, it is the best direction education can go right now, and they need to fight for it. We cannot let the government continue to dictate how classrooms should be ran based on what strategies result in the highest test scores. Our society is changing to where an employer no longer cares about what grades you got in school, but rather, how well you work with others, how well you can problem solve, and how well you can not only show leadership, but take directions well yourself. Instead of ‘teaching to the test’ we need to equip our students with the critical thinking, reasoning, and problem solving tools. They need to have the motivation to try, the humility to admit when they’re wrong, and the adversity to try again until they succeed.
I think that sharing everything, or at least something, is an idea that I can easily see myself committing to. I have always believed that as a teacher, your number one job is to constantly be looking for ways to become a better teacher. A great way to do that is by sharing what you are already doing to allow for feedback and input, so you can only make it better, while at the same time, networking with others to find completely new ideas that you hadn’t thought of yourself. Sharing your lessons that you have dedicated so much time to, constantly refined, and have continued to make better, grants you “the ability to reach just just our kids, but kids around the world” (Richardson, 387). If you have the knowledge, why not share it?
The idea presented in the book that might be a struggle for me to commit to would be transferring the power. The example Richardson provided in the book was of students at an Academy. It is my understanding, that Academy Schools have more flexibility in the curriculum that would allow for them to take on month long projects like the one mentioned in the book. I would love to be able to undergo a real-world project with my students and learn right alongside them, however I feel that this is a request that is more likely to be turned down in a mainstream school. I fear that I would not be given the flexibility to take on such a unique learning experience, but then again, isn’t fighting for it what Richardson’s book is all about?
Richardson. W. (2012). Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Education Are Everywhere . Kindle Edition.