School change: the myth of the one-size-fits-all school

by Steve Wyckoff on April 13, 2010

When we talk about school change we automatically fall into the mindset that what ever changes we make should apply to all schools. Every elementary school should look like every other elementary school, every middle school should look like every other middle school, and every high school should look like every other high school.

But in the 21st century that makes absolutely no sense. Why, in this day and age, would we want to “mass-produce” students that were all exactly the same? We have never lived in a time that is more customized and individualized. Furthermore, we’ve never had the tools that we have today, that we could use to customize an individualize for every school, and for every student.

Having one set of defined requirements to graduate from K-12 schools, defined by a central authority of 10 people, and regulated by the Department of Education, is insane. It’s worse than insane, it’s criminal.

I’ve used this line many times including in testimony to the House education committee, and the state Board of Education, but it still applies, “If we had a state department of bookstores they wouldn’t have allowed Amazon.com to exist!” You see, Amazon.com didn’t look like a bookstore, get it sells more books than any traditional bookstore. Furthermore, it has contributed greatly to the dramatic change in how people shop and buy today.

We need to be creating the Amazon.com’s of schools. Yes, some would fail, but many would not. If we would unleash the creativity and innovation inherent in Americans we would create the kind of schools our children need and deserve. Real school change is not a one-size-fits-all proposition, it’s a customized and individualized proposition. – Steve Wyckoff

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