Education Trends

Student Calls for a Learning Revolution

“I am not a number.”

May 4, 2012

Last year, industrial designer Dean Benstead unveiled the 02 Pursuit—a prototype for a motorcycle fueled not by gas or electricity but compressed air. Just last month, Google announced a secret initiative, Project Glass, the company’s first venture into wearable computing.

Yet in the world of education, the next big thing is merit pay for teachers and boosting test scores. Do our policymakers not understand that the world is going through a revolution in the way we live, interact, and learn?

Our education system is stuck in paralysis. We have tried doing the same thing over and over again with the expectation of a different result. This is insanity at its finest. The way we educate is based on the tenets of the Industrial Revolution—conformity and standardization.

For instance, creativity is virtually extinguished as a child goes through school. Dale Stephens has highlighted a longitudinal study of divergent thinking, which measures one’s propensity for creativity. Initially, the researchers found, 98 percent of 3- to 5-year-olds tested at genius level for divergent thinking, but by the end of post-secondary education, only 2 percent of them did.

So if you’re trying to produce compliant, dead-brained, formulaic workers, our system is doing exactly what it was designed for. (I should add “grade-obsessed” to that cadre of properties.) But in a society where innovation is simply everything, it is a cultural and moral failure to encourage this compliance.

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Education Is Life

That’s why I am starting a movement, or what Seth Godin might call “a tribe.” The Learning Revolution is a tribe of change-makers and trailblazers united in a cause to transform our schools. We are connected through answering this simple yet powerful question: How can we make school the best hours of a kid’s day?

Look at Brightworks, a K–12 independent school in San Francisco. No grades. No tests. No transcripts. The curriculum is based on the Brightworks Arc—exploration, expression, and exposition. If we put these principles on a high pedestal, John Dewey’s saying, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself,” will come to fruition.

Indeed, education is undergoing a renaissance. Learners—not institutions—are creating a bottom-up change. From abolishing the SAT to calling for project-based learning in the classroom, we’re fighting for significant changes. We don’t deserve to be pelted with Scantrons and No. 2 pencils. We are not a bunch of numbers. We are living, breathing, creative human beings.

The Learning Revolution movement is about everyone. We are students. We are educators. We are parents. We are administrators. We are entrepreneurs. We are concerned citizens. We are mad as hell. The last thing you can do is ignore us.

No reforms. A revolution. Bring it on!