Tuesday, April 03, 2012

How Did School Do?

By Sean Wheeler and Ken Kozar

Learning comes more from asking questions than it does from answering them.  

Of course, the education paradigm that we find ourselves in is based upon an opposite notion.  This notion holds that by measuring students’ responses to questions that we put in front of them we can somehow surmise how effectively students learn, how effectively we teach, and how well the educational model that we’ve developed over a couple hundred years serves to prepare our students for engaged and meaningful lives.  

Perhaps it’s time that we begin to explore a different path.

A month or so ago, the team of teachers we work with came up with an interesting idea based on a post that Shelly Blake-Plock had written entitled, “If School Is Not Relevant”.  

“Imagine if schools were judged not by how well students achieved while they were in school, but in how well they achieved once they left. If schools saw their worth not in how many kids got accepted to college, but in how many kids went on to live meaningful and engaged lives and who would point back to their school years as the point of relevancy that was the foundation of it all.”  
In an age of massively networked communication and virtually unlimited access to information, it seems like our educational model should be exploring the tremendous potential our students have in regards to asking big questions of -- and to -- their world.  Authentic audiences can be easily accessed, broadcasting is incredibly simple, and our mission as educators should include teaching our students to work in a world in which everyone is connected.  

We can now ask huge questions of the world, and learn from listening to the conversations that develop.

But we didn’t want to only imagine an education assessment model like that, we wanted to create one.  What would we find out if we actually asked people to reflect on the relevance of education in their adult lives?  What questions could we begin to ask of a data pool like that?  Who could use that information and for what purposes?  What would it mean if we could begin to analyze this qualitative feedback and learn from it in the aggregate?    

So we approached Shelly Blake-Plock and Andrew Coy with a suggestion that we team up and use social media to gather this feedback.  What we came up with is theHow Did School Do?” Project, and we’re hoping to learn from the feedback we get.

Our students will watch the videos, study them, and begin to propose research topics based on patterns that will begin to emerge from your feedback.  Students will then set out to explore their topic, engage in conversations about their topic, and ultimately report what they’ve learned online.  

We’d like to invite other classes to join us as well, and will do our best to support a network of students studying these reflections on school relevance.  We also invite anyone else who’d like to join us in learning from what your videos tell us.  We hope it sparks many great conversations about what works in our schools.  So please submit a video, share this with your friends and family, and help us to get a really big answer to a really big question...

How did school do?


  1. This is a great idea and I'm glad to see a totally different approach to define effective schools. However, aren't you defining your responses by the fact that you're gathering videos only? Doesn't the video-only response limit the socio-economic pool?

    1. In today's age, even in the economic status of many of our students, someone within a structured group will most likely have a means of recording video..i.e. phone, ipod, camera. This is today's era and in today's era many have access to the various technology tools we would otherwise think are not available. I LOVE this concept and hope to get my students to participate in our middle school art class!!! Thank you for the inspiration and making education relevant!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Limiting to only video responses does limit the pool. We've thought about that and plan to add a written element to this eventually. But no matter what, the pool is going to get limited somewhere, so this will be another part of the project for the students to consider. So far, this is only in English. We'd like to maybe get our students who are also studying a foreign language to do some translation and overdub on the videos. We'd also like to get closed captioning going in English and other languages. To be honest, right now we're focussing on just asking the question. What we get, and how we will expand possible submission options, will have to be dealt with by our students. It's their project, and I look forward to seeing how they deal with issues of accessibility. Thanks for commenting, we're really glad to be in conversation about this project.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.