education reform inspiration

#Twitacad Twitter Academy: Starting a School

There are some things, that when presented to you in life, you want to run away from.  In my experience, those things I want to run away from, are often a window into my future.   My immediate reaction is to resist, but in the end, as I get more comfortable with the idea, I end up embracing it with passion.  Over the past 3 years, I have been approached by different people, in different walks of life, to start a school.  The first time conversation headed in this direction I was intrigued and, if I’m honest, totally terrified.  What do I know about starting a school?  I continued the conversation because I love talking education and learning and thought I might learn something in the process.  Last year, my mindset about starting a school began to change.  I can’t pinpoint exactly what caused that change, maybe it was being in a private school and realizing that even there, education isn’t what it should be.  Sure there are more resources, money, involved parents, more freedom, but education is still being done the same way it has been for nearly a century.  We have tools and resources at our disposal that would make customizing education a much easier task than it was even 20 years ago and yet the direction we are heading in is to standardize more and individualize less.

Somewhere in the span of a year, I decided to really take this on.  Even if the end result wasn’t a school, I wanted to really intentionally re-imagine education.  I wanted to re-imagine what a school is.  I brought together a few teachers who share my passion for education and learning and a passion to improve education.  Two of us decided to pursue what it would take to make our ideas a reality and start a school.  We brought an entrepreneur into the mix who has no background in education but knows how to build a business.  That may seem like a strange thing to do, but we both felt that an outside perspective is needed.  Sometimes we are too close to education to get a clear view of the possibilities that exist because we can build up walls that are unnecessary.  The three of us are coming to a place where we are ready to invite more voices into the mix.  I would relish your input in the formation of this school.  This is your opportunity to help shape education!  I think the best way to ask for that input is through Google forms.  I will be throwing out Google Forms with questions about education, learning, school design etc. over the next few months, I hope you will help out when you can.

First I should give you a 10,000 foot view of what we are looking to accomplish.  I don’t want to give away too many details just yet because as I am asking for input, I want it to be separate from our ideas and biases.  We are looking to create a replicable school model that could eventually take the place of public education.   Right now it is our feeling that public education is beyond tweaking.  Education needs a major overhaul and re-imagining.  To try to do this within the current system is going to be slow at best.  We want the school to be free for everyone (tuition-free) but private (not government-funded).  I will post more later about our ideas for how to accomplish that.  The focus of the school will be building up a community of learners.  I will be adding more details and fleshing this out for those who are interested in later posts.

With this in mind, I would love your help with the first round of questions.  If you can take a minute to help out it would be greatly appreciated.  This first Google form focuses on the learning environment.  Don’t feel like you have to answer each and every question, answer those that you have an opinion about or are passionate about.

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You may be wondering what the title of this post is all about… about a month ago @cybraryman1 and I came up with the idea of Twitter Academy, the ideal school created and shaped by educators on Twitter.  As I progress with this project, I will be using the hash tag #twitacad on Twitter to follow conversations and progress.  Please feel free to add to that conversation by adding #twitacad to any of your tweets.  @cybraryman1 has started a page on his awesome site for Twitter Academy.

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26 Comments

  1. I love this idea. I had thought of something similar along these lines awhile ago and actually started up a group on the EDU PLN to work on it. Unfortunately, life got crazily in the way and I wasn’t able to lead it anymore. However, there are 132 members of that group that you might want to contact in your efforts- they all signed on hoping to do just this!

    Here is a link to the group: http://edupln.ning.com/group/21stCenturySchool

    Looking forward to following along and helping if at all possible. =)

  2. Hi Kelly,

    I left you some responses on your Google form. I love musing about school libraries of the future, so if you are looking for input, I’d love to help.

    This looks very exciting and I look forward to seeing what develops!

  3. As a home educator I am all for the customization of education! I applaud you for so bravely stating that the current public education model is “beyond tweaking”.

    I will pray mightily for this “idea” to become a reality.
    What an incredible gift that would be for so many!

    I LOVED that you brought in a business man to help you brainstorm. Brilliant!

  4. Great idea! I get so discouraged when I hear about politicians talking about longer school days or more money for Interactive Whiteboards in schools… They just don’t get it. You can’t just throw money at the problem. We need to COMPLETELY rethink the way the school system is designed!

    For example, why do students have to be separated by grades? Why couldn’t they be grouped by ability levels? You might have a class where 10 year olds are peer-coaching 15 year olds in Geometry, or 8 year olds are discussing a historical fiction with 11 year olds… just because that’s where they are academically, not based on their age.

    That’s just one example…I think there are so many possibilities out there when we re-imagine education.

  5. @Laura- exactly, the “solutions” that politicians are coming up with for education are just depressing. Grade levels is something that we have decided on. Kids don’t develop at the same rate. We don’t expect them to lose their teeth or reach a certain height by the time they are 5, why would we expect that their brains would all develop at the exact same rate? Silliness.

  6. Hi Kelly,

    I absolutely loved everything that you’ve shared on this post. I’m yet to write on the form, but I’d like to write this comment first. 🙂

    It’s nice of you to have an outside perspective from someone who’s more business-oriented than teachers. We tend to focus too much on the education part and sometimes we might end up forgetting that if we are to make our dreams come true, it’s also important for the project to be economically viable for those who are trying to implement it. This doesn’t mean that the goal is profit, no way! But there are lots of expenses that have got to be paid for, and these might at times get in the way of all we want to accomplish.

    I’d love to help in anyway I can. Despite living in another country, I also agree with you that the current educational setting is beyond tweaking – we’re merely going with the flow while we still can. How long till the whole system falls apart? I don’t think we’re that far away from it.

    Lots of positive vibes from Brazil!

    Henrick

  7. This is an answer to my prayers! This is what we need to happen to “rescue” our children from the government. Just thinking about what education could be makes me feel excited to be teaching. Right now morale is low and stress is high!! I’m frustrated with gov’t telling me how and what to teach. I like to have fun and explore, but that doesn’t fit into the new standards and time frame that they feel is “best”. God has blessed you with the initiative to do this and I hope He blesses me with the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful endeavor!!

  8. I love this idea. I wanted to start something similar, but was looked at like I had three heads when I suggested that my target student audience was in elementary school. I do agree that we need a paradigm shift in education, and within the current system this will take far too long. Let me know how the planning stages go and also if you are looking for teachers. I’d love to be a part of this project.

  9. @Eric- I stopped worrying about people who look at me like that…they are perfectly happy plodding along as they are. No use trying to change them!
    I will keep posting about progress and development, we would love to have you join us!

  10. Amazing idea! I am going to complete your form shortly. I really think you are on to something big! I would also like to be included if you are in need of help with this project.

    Nicole

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