Will Richardson has written a new very short book that I think offers us the maximum clarity for the struggle that is going on in education today. Is school a simple matter of passing tests or is it a place where our children learn to learn?
Here is my review of his book on Amazon - You can buy the book here.
"Will Richardson shows us in this brilliant very short book the clear choice for all of us in Education today. Is education all about passing narrowly defined tests or is it all about setting up the habits of learning? Is the context a tiny amount of information that is simple enough to be tested for by a computer or do we today have an infinite amount of material and experience to learn from?
Is our world a simple world where knowing a few standard answers will arm us for life as it is lived? Or is it very complex and so we need to know how to think and test our way through it?
On the side of the test is the corporate world who see a huge opportunity to take over this sector. In the middle are teachers and schools that have shut off themselves from the complex world of the web. On the side of learning are many parents who intuitively know that their kids need to be learners but don't know how to make this happen.
Will makes the case and I agree completely, that the stakes could not be higher. Our choice as parents is to watch our kids become drones or to come alive. Our choice as communities is to keep our kids helpless in a changing world or to prepare the next generation for the challenges that confront us today - for everything is up for change. The communities that adapt the best, will thrive. Those that cannot think or learn or unlearn will not.
So who is Will to paint this scene? He is not some crank. He comes from the system and his last "job" was as a Superintendant. He gave up all this security to become the St Paul for real reform. He travels the nation and has been to more schools and met more parents than anyone I can think of. Will is also a grandfather of the web. He was one of the tiny number of pioneers back in 2001 to have a blog. Few people know more about the world OUT THERE than he does. Few have made such a positive impression on the online community. Will knows the old and the new better than most. He is a true authority.
Why is this book also so accessible? Will has chosen also the book design of the future. It is released as a short eBook. It is 14,000 words long and I read it in an hour. There is no padding. I could quote almost the entire book. You can see my notes as I read it here. It is priced to make it affordable.
Who should read this book? Every parent and grand parent. You will then be armed with the clarity to make sense of the situation that faces you, your kids and your community. Every teacher. You will have to get off the fence. Every education administrator and politician. You will see the choice before you and will be supported in doing the right thing.
The more that the entire community can collectively read this book, the more it will see what to do and what to choose. For we will have to struggle our way to a better future. The one thing that will be clear though is that teaching to the test is a death sentence.
500 years ago, a monk offered people a similar choice. Luther pointed out that our souls were a matter between God and ourselves. He saw no role for the institution of the church as the arbiter. Our own education and the education of our children is all about learning. Learning is our responsibility and does not belong to any institution.
You will not regret reading this book."