Inna German works at Theory and Practice ( http://theoryandpractice.ru ) – the leading Russian education portal.
Inna German (RU), let me answer your questions:
— What is the main idea of RadicalSchoolChange project?
To create an international MOUVEMENT that is strong enough to DEMAND RADICAL CHANGES of how we nowadays organize information transfer and appropriation. Information Transfer and Appropriation happens in institutes we call schools.
The information transfer as we know it now is all over the world organized to fit the industrial way of producing. As if nothing has happened since then, as if we still need to prepare a workforce that works as an obedient mass all doing the same at the same moment.
Of course there are many exceptions, many different methods to individualize the transfer of information, but in general, most schools, whether they are public or private, organize information transfer and appropriation in classes. A group of students is addressed with the same information, equal to all participants of the class by the same instructor at the same time.
In the 19th century this system was developed because it seemed the most efficient way to prepare people for the assembly line work.
Nowadays all who take part in this sector of information transfer, whether these are the teachers, the students, the parents or the governments, are aware that this system does not work anymore. Moreover it turns out to be counterproductive. Aggression took hold of these institutes and this is just one example of its dysfunction. A peaceful activity as the appropriation and transfer of knowledge, techniques and experience in an institute for physical, emotional and intellectual development and growth, should not be a zone of war and hatred, but a zone of generous cooperation and exchange.
Although all participants agree that fundamental changes are necessary, none of these groups seem to be able to change the system. Many reforms have been tried out to improve the schools, their effects are very small as long as the fundaments of the system are not tackeled.
What is needed is a RADICAL CHANGE, that radically thinks information transfer and appropriation differently.
How to get this done?
We think that RADICAL CHANGE can’t be initiated from the government, as they are bound to too much law and regulations, nor from the teachers, they will be afraid to lose their (difficult) job, nor from the parents, they are afraid that they will lose the crèche that controls and keeps their children away from home, so the only revolutionary potential seem to be the students of the colleges and gymnasia themselves, aged between 12-17/18. They have nothing to lose only to win by dismantling this prison of information transfer that treats them like cattle, holds them ignorant, makes them aggressive and teaches them a-social behaviour.
The main idea of the RadicalSchoolChange project is to prepare and develop alternative, radically different models for modern information appropriation and transfer, and to try to implement them. But, when this won’t work, because there is too much of a resistance towards a Radical Change of Schools we also prepare and organize simultaneously a revolution, planned, for instance, for november 2015, in which the students in europe leave the schools and only return when the flexible models they propose are fully accepted.
Everybody who shares our concern can take part and spent time to prepare these necessary changes. A lot needs to be done. As we want to propose an integral plan that implies law and regulations as well as principles and contents for many different models of information transfer and apprpriation.
We dont want to create one model. We want to propose a wide range of models for information appropriation. Whether this is the existing classical instruction model or a model that offers total freedom to the student to decide what and how and when she or he wants to learn.
The teachers are in our models no longer only the instructors of information who decide which information in which quantity will be taught and assessed. (Read the Ignorant Schoolmaster by Jacques Rancière). But the teacher will become the consultant AND stimulator AND helper, one that can advise and consult. Not the one that knows what is the best for you, not the one you have to listen too, not the one you have to follow, but the one that is giving proposals, alternatives, assistance to help you reach your goals or to help you to formulate or reformulate your goals.
The school it self, becomes a building, a site, full of information, informators, tools, and machines to be consulted and to be used. Well equipped with enough of the latest models and information. Think of libraries, different libraries for different segments of information and or society, instruments for natural and medical sciences, gymnastic tools, a radio and tv station, a printing unit, workshops for all kind of activities and equipped with up to date instruments.
The school will transform into sites for information and excercise. Free access for in principle all members of society.
The teachers will no longer lose their time to instruct classes, but will be there to explain the use of the instruments and sites. Not to posses and protect them, but to have them used as much as possible and as smart as possible.
The school can become the place where young citizens can develop new products, writings, ways of doing.
And the school will work in full cooperation with society, means that it will be able to use, professional sites and instruments of all aspects of society. And it will work in full relation with the practices outside the school. The school develops businesses, services, associations, practices just like the world outside the school. See for this on the fresh website: http://www.radicalschoolchange.org/ Geoff Mulgan, a short introduction to the Studio school.
For this to happen we need to think the educational system less protective and safe.
Parents now trust their kids to schools to be sure that nothing will harm them and the school takes over all responsibility and is therefore obliged to treat their population under a regime of heavy control and very restricted freedom of mouvement.
The new Sites for Information Appropriation and Transfer (siat), as we propose to name these new ‘schools’ will no longer be liable for the safety of the students, but the students themselves will be. No protection, no safety, no assurance, parents take the responsibility for their own children, despite the fact that inscribing to a SIAT till the age of 14 is obligatory.
Why are these changes necessary?
Students nowadays know much better in which direction, in which specific direction they want to develop themselves. The classical system orients students in a very general direction, students have the impression to lose their time, as they know nowadays much better what they would like to learn but the school does not provide neither the content nor the time to this. Modern tools like computers, mobile phones and the internet offer nonetheless a lot of the information the student would specialize him or herself in.
The new school should offer a much bigger differentiation of the knowledge and experience that apparently is available and that would fit the many different needs of the many different students. That suits them to how they want to function and contribute to society, based on their interests, passions, and intellectual, physical, emotional, social, sexual and verbal capacities.
So the new SIAT (Site for information Appropriation and Transfer) has to become the place that helps to organize and stimulate every individual student to follow their own very specific curriculum.
We don’t need more teachers for this, we only need to redirect the task and function of the educational consultant, the teacher, we prefer to call him or her educationl assistant, will no longer lose time in instructing and controlling the groups/classes. As many students will work on their own in the SIAT, finding the material they look for and exercise the appropriation of it, the educational consultant can pay more attention to those who ask for help or need more help.
In short, The RadicalSchoolChange project aims at preparing this radical change, to start up experiments and tests and to develop pressure to demand full implementation and if necessary prepares for a specific, internationally organized moment to force the implementation.
And for this we need a lot of help.
We need to reformulate educational laws
We need to develop many different models of siat’s.
We need to develop models that can absorb without exception any potential student, that no-one is and will be excluded and that everyone can get the most out of their capacities and affinities.
We need to formulate a wide range of possible curricula.
We need to reformulate all aspects regarding assessing, obligatory progress, control, safety, connections and communications with society.
We need to reformulate the status and position of the educational consultants.
We need to connect to all existing schools and create units for change, with students, teachers, parents, politicians, boards.
We need to organize and prepare the communication and marketing of these ideas in paper, online.
We need to organize experiments and test sites of SIAT’s.
We need to develop science and evaluation. Books and brochures need to be written. Websites and blogs developed.
We need to find funds and funding.
The ‘factory for products of radical change’, that we develop in the building of the PerformingArtsForum in the north of France, can host for the beginning period the main offices.
— How radical these changes should be? Do you stand for evolution or revolution concept in changing educational paradigma?
The answer on the first question indicates that ONLY Radical Change is were we are aiming at.
Since the 70-ies the educational administration is bombarding the schools with reformations. All not making it better. More often to the contrary. These reformations kept the educational staff in the schools so busy with the implementation and adaptation of all these reforms that this took away any revolutionary potential from the side of the teaching staff. They are more than tired and fed up with these often obsolete but time consuming reforms, whether these came from their unions or from the administration.
So we stand for revolution.
But we have to prepare the revolution from within the schools.
This might give rise to a revolutionary evolution. Successful experiments might quickly be followed up.
We intend to prepare the revolution for the west but all other countries and continents that want to join are more than welcome. Like you in Russia.
We can imagine that the revolutionary potential in Russia is bigger and better prepared to demand and implement radical change than in the spoiled west.
— There are a lot of ideas in the air but almost no solutions. We have Khan Academy but it can do nothing with actual school problems?
You are right. What the Kahn Academy shows is that models of individual learning are available and moreover very successful. It shows that a lot of information, experience, will to exchange and help generously is available on the net. The Kahn Academy developed also a smart system of assessment.
Salman Kahn’s Academy shows that we can open up the schools. That we can use other sources of information and experience than only that of the teacher-instructor.
But the KahnAcademy and similar models of which we show some on our fresh website: http://www.radicalschoolchange.org/ ,cannot change the existing schooling system controlled by the state. This change is something we the people, we the students, we the teachers, we the parents, we the politicians have to do ourselves. And we have to do it radically.
This need for Radical Change does not come only from us, but also, or above and for all from a modest character but active propagator for school change like Sir Ken Robinson. It is he who formulated that our schools need “a learning revolution that will change the school into something else”.
Please contact us on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or visit the blog: http://www.radicalschoolchange.org/
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