Friday, April 06, 2007

Abolish school!

I just love to read calls to abolish schools. If only we had to courage to do it.

Robert Epstein, author of the recently published The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen, openly argues for it in his article "Let's Abolish High School" in Education Week. Just as Alvin Toffler explained why we need to shut down the public education system in the Feb. 2007 issue of Edutopia.

It's what Prof. Stephen Heppell was suggesting at the IBAP conference: instead of schools, what if we could measure what people know and offer a free, global model of recognition of accomplishment? A kind of YouTube for learning outcomes, as he said.

During his talk, Heppell showed us several examples of work by "researchers" (as students are called, to distance them from traditional school language) participating his project. These kids, excluded from traditional schools for some reason, are given a brand-new Macintosh computer, a broadband internet connection, and mentors -- and the learning begins. The program has exceeded all expectations. (See this report on the Apple Learning website.)

Heppell was also instrumental in the establishment of Ultraversity -- a degree course now offered at a UK university, where people can work full-time and study full-time -- by learning about the work they're already doing. (See this 2003 Guardian (UK) article on Ultraversity.)

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  1. Yes, Dr. Toffler wrote a beautiful endorsement for my book because of the ways our views overlap. But I don't actually say we should abolish high school, but merely that we need to give young people ways of testing out of school quickly and of joining the adult world in meaningful ways. We need to give teens opportunities and incentives to escape from the vacuous and bizarre world of teen culture - of discovering their "inner adult" and connecting in meaningful ways with adults. In many countries today and throughout most of human history, teens weren't trying to break away from adults; they were trying to become adults. We need to start that process rolling once again.

  2. Teen culture is certainly vacuous! Segregating teens together creates a dysfunctional society of teen drinking, drug use, children having children, STDs, delinquency, crime, and a belligerent resentfulness that never really leaves the child its entire life.


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