How Can We Evolve Education?
Using the Collective Intelligence to Overcome Systemic Challenges
It is clear that the US education system is limited. Most schools systems have not been upgraded to match the globally connected, technologically savvy, smartphone and social media enabled information age, in their curriculums, mindsets, or systems. Most schools don’t emphasize creativity or compassion. They have not incorporated new insights from scientific research into what makes people successful (emotional intelligence is more important than cognitive intelligence), become effective leaders (more mature ego development), or what makes life worth living, despite the “pursuit of happiness” being a foundational principle of our country.
It’s easy to criticize, and much harder to propose solutions. Many are trying, and many are succeeding. There are countless schools doing really cool things all around the US and around the globe, often without many financial resources or administrative support. There are teachers everywhere successfully educating in non-traditional and highly effective ways. They use everything available to them, and have developed astounding methods and lesson plans.
The Evolved Teaching Resource
This is exactly the resource I’d like to tap into. Most of these innovators are willing to share with anyone who wants to listen—they are truly interested in education and have no need to keep their ideas secret. How can we create a platform for this sort of collaboration? If it already exists, how can we improve it?
Imagine a wiki site with crowd sourced education plans and resources for every subject, age group, action logic, culture, and language, that took into account mindset, behavior, culture, and systems. Each plan would be tagged with these categories, and others, by other teachers and users, to allow for other users to find the most useful solution to their particular challenge. People could add their mods and changes as sub-plans, with their own tags based on need, and voting would let the cream rise to the top.
Cross-Country Communication and Collaboration
Schools do already communicate in and across districts, but they might have very little in common other than geography. Schools in completely different parts of the country—or the world—might be serving similar populations, facing similar constraints, and be able to offer creative solutions.
For example, let’s say two inner-city schools have similar demographic of students, but one’s in Detroit and the other’s in Houston. Neither one resembles any other school in their district, so even though the Detroit school developed a really great after-school care program, without a robust communication system it will never get propagated to other schools that might benefit from adopting a similar system. If it does, the Houston school might find some useful tweak that improves the system, and share that back with Detroit.
The right network wouldn’t even require them to be in direct contact with each other. Creating this sort of network—one that allows all stakeholders in the education process to share best practices—students, teachers, parents, administrators, enthusiasts, etc.—could have an extremely valuable effect on the state of education without the political gridlock of passing new laws or requiring the resources and culture change of a huge overhaul.
It would be more like real life—adaptive, flexible, and constantly changing. It would help us keep the baby when we throw out the bathwater, surfacing what’s really working well in the systems we have while eschewing what does not work. Even if schools were dissimilar, they would find value in sharing what works and what does not.
Your Role in Education
What do you think? Does this system already exist? What is missing, and what are the flaws? How could this idea be improved, and how could it be implemented? What are the challenges? What would it take to overcome them? Do you know people who would benefit from or contribute to this kind of thing?
Finally, who wants to get it started with me?