The glacial pace of change in Education is a theme constantly discussed by colleagues I admire but mostly I hear the opposite, that change is too relentless, too challenging.
Systems seem to have some inbuilt, organic way of slowing change – preserving the status quo – and even when the paradigm shift is acknowledged, key players seem unable to generate the enthusiasm or traction to make it happen.
President Barack Obama’s success, fueled by new media tools like Twitter, the desire for change and more participation in politics by ordinary folks, has met with the expected challenges in Washington:
Government 2.0 has reached its midlife crisis. Despite some leadership from influential individuals on using social software in government, there is still in many cases a disconnect between authorities issuing directives and ground troops carrying them out. In some corridors of Washington, this impervious middle section of government is jokingly referred to as “the clay layer,” the layer through which no light shall pass. Resistant to change and adhering strictly to doctrine even when nonsensical, people in the clay layer can halt progress. Despite their intentions and being in a strategic position, they often stop the progress being called for. SOURCE: Government 2.0: The Mid-life Crisis
I encourage you to read the entire article and also Web-Savvy Obama Team Hits Unexpected Bumps as this experiment in more open government, if successful, provides authority for others endeavouring to make changes in a range of institutions around the world.
Back to Education 2.0. There’s plenty of reading about some of our challenges in NSW with Web 2.0 innovation available in the blogosphere. The filtering in schools worldwide is increasingly making students and teachers despair. The comments at Teachers attack DET filters are a numerous sample of the opinions many hold on this unnecessarily contentious issue. If filtering is about ‘Child Protection’ then a growing body of empirical evidence suggests we are being overly cautious and, as a result, stifling innovation.
For example, the Final Report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force to the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States does not support the assertions made in the ZDNet article about ‘Child Protection’.
“A Harvard-based task force set up in the wake of an agreement by MySpace and state Attorneys General has released its report on the safety of children who venture online. It has concluded that the dangers are often overhyped, and that many of them arise from other adolescents.” SOURCE
We have our own ‘clay layer’ and we need some ‘new thinking’ and savvy people not only leading the innovation but making it work. The challenges are numerous and it is easy to be critical but without criticism we are unlikely to adapt at the pace needed. To quote again from the article about President Obama’s challenges:
“You have a choice: you can either create your own future, or you can become the victim of a future that someone else creates for you. By seizing the transformation opportunities, you are seizing the opportunity to create your own future.”
Just had a feed from Seth Godin’s blog which felt relevant:
When people read great ideas online, I often wonder what happens to them after that… Nodding is fun to watch, but largely ineffective.
How will Education 2.0 advocates create the future for children and their communities?