I’m not sure how I missed it, but I’m very glad I caught Will Richardson’s post from early November. Will writes a letter to his two children about a future college education and in it he says,
For most of your young lives, you’ve heard your mom and I occasionally talk about your futures by saying that someday you’ll travel off to college and get this thing called a degree that will show everyone that you are an expert in something and that will lead you to getting a good job that will make you happy and make you able to raise a family of your own someday. At least, that’s what your mom and I have in our heads when we talk about it. But, and I haven’t told your mom this yet, I’ve changed my mind. I want you to know that you don’t have to go to college if you don’t want to, and that there are other avenues to achieving that future that may be more instructive, more meaningful, and more relevant than getting a degree.
One of the reasons I love to read Will’s posts, is that he is constantly and deliberately challenging my thinking about education and about learning. That’s very good for me and works well, because I truly want to have the best school we can have for all kids. A huge part of that means I have to think about how we do business now and consider how it’s working and how it’s not. Also, how can we do it better?
The comments that ensued in response to Will’s post are interesting. Dean Shareski comments,
I keep telling everyone that in 3 years many of our students will choose not to attend high school. They’ll instead find a way to “play school”, get their diploma and pursue other interests. My question lately to teachers/administrators is “What will your school offer students that will make the choose to come?”
What you are describing to your kids is they have a choice about how they’ll learn. As Karl said previously, they won’t have to wait till college to make this decision.
I think about the changing landscape of education, as Dean does, and I realize we have to really think about re-inventing ourselves. But my passion lies in re-inventing public schools for all children. I can’t possibly support the idea that was threaded through some of the comments Will received that challenged him to consider an alternative to public education for his children now. While I understand and support the families who consider this option, there are far more children who don’t have this option. For whom public school has to be the best option, not their only option.
Let’s please keep this conversation focused on change for all children. For many children in this country, public educators have to be their strongest advocate because they haven’t got anyone else.