June 2010

During a conversation about school change an individual made the comment that we’d be fine if, “The kids would just bear down and be responsible like they used to be!” Interesting thought. This individual went on to say that students from foreign countries, especially emerging countries, come to America and kick our kids butts in school.

As you might guess, I have a different point of view on this. I think that if our kids got their drinking water from a hole next to their house they would be equally motivated to do what ever it takes to change their station in life. Fortunately this isn’t the case.

In an affluent society such as ours we are never going to return to the student behaviors of the past. It’s incumbent upon us as educators to create a system that meets the needs of society in such a way that it also engages our students as they’ve never been engaged before.

The other day while speaking at the University of Kansas to a group of teachers in the process of obtaining their certification to become building level administrators, I was asked if there has ever been a time in our history that our students were authentically engaged on a regular basis. The answer obviously, is no. But it didn’t matter. Our students were being prepared for a completely different society than we have today.

In fact, that’s part of our problem. We are still preparing students for a world of factories and mass production. A world where the most important skill was compliance. If you want to succeed in today’s schools, be very compliant, and act like you care. Guaranteed success.

Unfortunately, graduating from that system doesn’t guarantee success in life. In fact being compliant is the path to a job that has, low pay, high potential for being outsourced, or automated using technology.

The school change we need to make needs to be a thoughtful transformation to schools that prepare kids for their future in the 21st century. For us to attempt to make our kids adapt to our schools is utter nonsense! – Steve Wyckoff

School change: creating the creative class

by Steve Wyckoff on June 25, 2010

I just finished Richard Florida’s book Flight Of The Created Class. It’s a compelling book, along with his other book Rise Of The Creative Class, they are a must read for educators. Compelling evidence of the need for school change.

But I was disturbed …  okay I know, that’s nothing new …  that it entirely ignored the role of public education. It completely focused on the need to attract immigrants of all types, but especially immigrants in the creative class. It mentioned education in passing but it’s almost as if Dr. Florida has written off public education. In fact, rarely do I read a book today about society in the 21st century that there isn’t a discussion about overcoming the effects of education received in America.

From Dr. Florida’s viewpoint why would anyone assume that public education could produce students equipped for the creative class. Our entire focus is on raising standardized test scores, and our strategies almost completely ignore any practice that would foster and nurture creativity and innovation.

If public school educators don’t get their heads out we will become completely irrelevant in terms of preparing our students for their life in the 21st century.

And, in a state like Kansas, if we don’t figure out how to dramatically increase the percentage of our residents who are members of the creative class we, as a state, we will be relegated to second-class status. School change wouldn’t be just nice, it’s an imperative. –  Steve Wyckoff

School change: connecting the dots

June 24, 2010

Perhaps it’s a change in leadership or the level of dissatisfaction with public education within the ranks or educators and policy makers may indeed be reaching the tipping point of school change. Our commissioner of education, Dr. Diane DeBacker, is either demonstrating a level of leadership not seen for over two decades, or all of […]

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School change: a conversation with future administrators

June 23, 2010

For many years I have spoken to perspective building administrators as an adjunct professor and as a visiting lecturer. This week I had the pleasure of visiting with a class of prospective school administrators at the University of Kansas. I’ve always enjoyed these visits mainly because I enjoy listening to myself speak, but the students […]

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School change: push platforms versus pull platforms

June 16, 2010

As I think about school change I’m always searching the current literature on the 21st century for theories of how the world works. I recently read the book, The Power of Pull by John Hagel, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison. Fascinating stuff. They do a great job of describing the world that is emerging […]

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School change: the Kansas Education Commission

June 15, 2010

Maybe school change can happen. In May the Kansas State Board of Education authorized the formation of the Kansas Education Commission to examine the framework for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). I have the honor, at least I think it’s an honor, of having been selected to serve on the commission. […]

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School change: Worthwhile or grades 13 and 14?

June 9, 2010

Recently, I was at a social gathering and three sets of parents were engaged in a conversation about their kids attending community colleges. One of the students after graduating from community college was attending a technical college for training in a healthcare field. This isn’t my first conversation with either parents or students about community […]

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School change: Educated or Knowledgeable?

June 8, 2010

In my many discussions with educators about school change I often run into individuals with thoughts and ideas that really resonate with me. One of those individuals is Ted Hill. Ted retired last year as principal of Erie High School and was kind enough to write the following post. Thanks to Ted! Educated or Knowledgeable […]

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School change: A school designed for real student learning!

June 7, 2010

Real school change will only happen when the “main dish” of education is a student centered, learning by doing experience. When our 115-year-old core curriculum is relegated to a  “side dish.” There is such a school, Erie High School in Erie Kansas. At Erie high school students have the option to be in a project […]

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School change: Remarkable! icil2010

June 5, 2010

Maybe it’s because I felt vindicated, but I think the people that organized and ran the  I Connect I Learn conference in Colby Kansas this week were remarkable! Diana Wieland, Ginger Luman, Theresa Morgan, Kevin Honeycutt, with assistance from many, many others, did a magnificent job. These are the people who will lead real school […]

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