Part Three in this week's series of posts on Education.
The future of schools is in the hands of the people that use them.
Tired of working with institutions due to the slow rate of change or lack of resources, people are making hard choices about what is best for their children and seeking out better options. In some cases, people are starting their own schools with the intent of reinventing or rethinking them.
If a school was a start up, then the focus would be on the user.
People that are interested in effecting lasting change at schools have had the greatest success using an entrepreneurial approach. They are often creating small, tailored educational environments that fill the need of a specific group of people. This kind of activism is consistent with what is happening in other industries, which are also rapidly evolving: technology start-ups, restaurants, and retail to name a few.
How long will this continue? Until equilibrium is reached. Institutional breakdown or general dissatisfaction will lead to the development of new educational models for students, schools, and school systems that aligns with what parents want for their children.
What would happen if institutions began to approach their parents as customers, or as partners even, in co-creating the educational experience for their children?
Clearly, there would need to be boundaries. Administrators working with parents to create an environment where the school organization learns and adapts to the shifting needs of its parents.
If education were to be viewed as a service, and the service providers had the means to constantly tweak the product that they were providing, could you create a situation where you could avoid an institutional breakdown? I believe it is possible to avoid a breakdown, but it requires a leader that can push this kind of change through the entire school system. It would also require the buy-in from the faculty and staff that are working on the front lines in the classroom. This is where change will hit the hardest. How do you motivate teachers to adapt?
The future of schools is a challenging topic because it is personal for many people. Where or when will this conversation end?
I certainly don't have the answers, but with an end state in mind, people will have a better sense of what their school can do for them and know where they are headed. Here are a few questions to consider:
- What is the role of education in our society? Or globally?
- What kind of educational experience do we want for our children?
- What is education preparing them for in life?
- What is holding up the evolution of schools to meet the global demand for people that can work together to solve common problems?
- How do we design an educational system that balances the various needs of the students?
- How can a school grow with its students?