School Change: Palliative Care For a Dying Institution?

Mike Crowley, The Synapse, Oct 28, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Mike Crowley reviews Will Richardson's latest book, From Master Teacher to Master Learner. He suggests that schools "know how to change promiscuously and at the drop of a hat," but not how to "improve, to engage in sustained and continuous progress." He argues "teachers are not the problem in the scenario portrayed" and that schools are locked into a set of presumptions that are no longer true. Here they are (quoted):

  • Knowledge is scarce, and we need to bring students to the knowledge.
  • Teachers are scarce, and we need to bring the students to the teacher.
  • An education needs to be standardized, and controlled by the institution.
  • Schools are where the tools for learning are.
  • Schools are for preparing students for college and careers.

We need to get past these presumptions. Richardson reminds us, says Crowley, that, “we not only have to do better, we have to do different”. Teachers should be given the room to innovate, because "It may take time for policy makers, governments, and school leaders to come around to this thinking, but teachers — just like students — now have the tools and means to hack their classrooms."

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