I have two passions.
The first is education – that is the thing I am thinking of when I wake and when I go to sleep (bear in mind I am not even teaching at the moment). I love to research learning methods, and consider how to improve my own learning and my teaching. I love to trade information with great teachers on Twitter, forums, blogs and Facebook – and, yes, even in real life!
I love how there is room to think out of the box but there is focus on a goal and how to get there. I love the freedom to create and evolve past creations. This is a vicarious passion – I hear from Dan what is going on, I watch the odd TED talk and read the odd blog, or dip into Techcrunch for a nosy.
So it is interesting when these two worlds collide.
Not least of all when that collision also involves a charter school, which I am working so hard against here in New Zealand for so many very good reasons.
So here is one of those times when they collide: education meets entrepreneurship.
This is a talk by Diane Tavenner about her US charter school in SIlicon Valley and how it is using the Lean Startup model to inform its teaching methods.
A couple of things struck me, but the most interesting thing is that all of what she described in terms of teaching methods and evaluation could be undertaken in a public schools if the government here were willing to allow us to innovate more.
Sure it would mean teaching teachers and senior staff about Lean Startup methods, and getting them on board. As with anything, you have to believe in what you are learning if you are to learn it well. But it is promising.
I know loads of teachers chomping at the bit to learn more, try different methods, change how things are done if they don’t seem to be the best way, and they would be up for this or any other innovation in a heartbeat IF it truly was aimed at helping the kids learn both their subject matter and good ethics and behaviour for life.
However, government are not giving public schools’ the freedom they are planning to give charters here – for public schools they are leaving the shackles on.
Why not drive positive change in the very good system we have, to improve it even further? Why not make it easier to partner with business Why not allow more funding for teachers to get professional development and be flexible about what that development is?
Why not allow the same funding criteria for public schools that charters will enjoy so that public schools have the freedom to choose where to spend their dollars best? After all, a public school can only spend on the the school and those within it – unlike a charter that can take some of that money for profit – so the money would be well spent.
That is what I find unacceptable. The double standard.
If such innovation truly can help children, and if helping children is the goal, then why not allow all schools the same freedom and see how it works out?
No experiment can be properly evaluated without a control.
Food for thought.
Thank you to Rory Ford for sharing this video with me.
PS, if anyone knows more about Diane Tavenner, her schools, her methods, or anything similar, good or bad, I would love to hear from you. Email me or post a comment. Thanks, Dianne