There is no shortage of talk about our public schools being broken. Some critics say we need to embrace a reform agenda that includes more standardized testing and a longer school day for students and performance pay and an end to tenure for teachers. Others respond that the effects of these measures are overstated or counterproductive and that the most sensible place to start is to dramatically increase funding for public schools in their current form. Whatever their positions or priorities, both sides in this debate are likely making the same key assumption — public schools are the best way to promote socio-economic mobility. This means that they still envision a lot of the same things, like an adult teaching a large group of children, who are approximately the same age, content that someone else has decided is important for them to learn. What if they instead accepted that other social programs would be a more effective means of achieving equity in our society? What if they believed that public education was a worthwhile endeavor, but that its true power was in its ability to facilitate creativity, critical thinking, civic participation, and self-direction? That would result in a much richer discussion with ideas that look completely different from the schools we recognize today. In Schools on Trail: How Freedom and Creativity Can Fix Our Education Malpractice (Doubleday, 2016), Nikhil Goyal makes the case for completely rethinking our conception of school and its purpose and presents models we can look towards to take it in a radically new direction.
Listen to the interview on New Books on Education.
Blogging my work as a teacher, educational consultant, speaker, and host of New Books in Education.