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Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere

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Traditional educators, classrooms, and brick-and-mortar schools are no longer necessary to access information. Instead, things like blogs and wikis, as well as remote collaborations and an emphasis on 'critical thinking' skills are the coins of the realm in this new kingdom. Yet the national dialogue on education reform focuses on using technology to update the traditional Traditional educators, classrooms, and brick-and-mortar schools are no longer necessary to access information. Instead, things like blogs and wikis, as well as remote collaborations and an emphasis on 'critical thinking' skills are the coins of the realm in this new kingdom. Yet the national dialogue on education reform focuses on using technology to update the traditional education model, failing to reassess the fundamental design on which it is built. In 'Why School?,' educator, author, parent and blogger Will Richardson challenges traditional thinking about education — questioning whether it still holds value in its current form. How can schools adjust to this new age? Or students? Or parents? In this provocative read, Richardson provides an in-depth look at how connected educators are beginning to change their classroom practice. Ultimately, 'Why School?' serves as a starting point for the important conversations around real school reforms that must ensue, offering a bold plan for rethinking how we teach our kids, and the consequences if we don't.


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Traditional educators, classrooms, and brick-and-mortar schools are no longer necessary to access information. Instead, things like blogs and wikis, as well as remote collaborations and an emphasis on 'critical thinking' skills are the coins of the realm in this new kingdom. Yet the national dialogue on education reform focuses on using technology to update the traditional Traditional educators, classrooms, and brick-and-mortar schools are no longer necessary to access information. Instead, things like blogs and wikis, as well as remote collaborations and an emphasis on 'critical thinking' skills are the coins of the realm in this new kingdom. Yet the national dialogue on education reform focuses on using technology to update the traditional education model, failing to reassess the fundamental design on which it is built. In 'Why School?,' educator, author, parent and blogger Will Richardson challenges traditional thinking about education — questioning whether it still holds value in its current form. How can schools adjust to this new age? Or students? Or parents? In this provocative read, Richardson provides an in-depth look at how connected educators are beginning to change their classroom practice. Ultimately, 'Why School?' serves as a starting point for the important conversations around real school reforms that must ensue, offering a bold plan for rethinking how we teach our kids, and the consequences if we don't.

30 review for Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere

  1. 5 out of 5

    Holly Chesser

    If you’ve been a teacher for any length of time, then no doubt you’ve been asked by students why they have to know, read, or study whatever subject you are teaching. Often, teachers respond that the knowledge is necessary to succeed in next year’s class or ultimately college. Education’s payoff becomes delayed, a lesson in patience for perhaps the least patient among us. In a short, popular e-book, Will Richardson, educator and prolific blogger, examines education’s present purpose, truncating t If you’ve been a teacher for any length of time, then no doubt you’ve been asked by students why they have to know, read, or study whatever subject you are teaching. Often, teachers respond that the knowledge is necessary to succeed in next year’s class or ultimately college. Education’s payoff becomes delayed, a lesson in patience for perhaps the least patient among us. In a short, popular e-book, Will Richardson, educator and prolific blogger, examines education’s present purpose, truncating that ubiquitous student question to two words: Why School. Seemingly channeling the passion and urgency of Jerry Maguire’s “mission statement,” Richardson’s brief book, perhaps an hour’s read, seeks a revolution in education that mirrors the actual knowledge revolution brought about by the Internet. Quoting Canadian education researcher Stephen Downes, Richardson explains the necessity for change: “We have to stop thinking of an education as something that is delivered to us and instead see it as something we create for ourselves.” Referencing psychologist Herbert Gerjuoy’s now familiar quote that “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write. The illiterate will be those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn,” Richardson offers “six unlearning/relearning ideas for educators”: 1. “Share everything.” 2. “Discover, don’t deliver, the curriculum.” 3. “Talk to strangers.” 4. “Be a master learner.” 5. “Do real work for real audiences.” 6. “Transfer the power.” In the last few chapters, Richardson asks for his readers’ participation. He shares how parents have answered what they wish school would be for their children: “I want them to love learning.” “I want them to be able to solve real problems.” “I want them to be independent thinkers.” His answer to these parents: “Scream.” His hyperbolic language highlights his belief that the exigency of the times requires action: “We all need to find a way to advocate for a new way of thinking about schools. We have to be willing to engage with, and perhaps even scream at, others who are putting politics, profits, and efficiencies – all based on a world that no longer exists – ahead of a rational, relevant conversation around what our kids truly need now.”

  2. 4 out of 5

    Steve Rueffer

    This book is in many ways akin to a decent bottle of wine. It is good sampled alone, but better when you have people to share it with. It is a very concise and comprehensible look at what is wrong with our current education model, and it starts the churning of ideas for where education should be heading. This short read mirrors many of my own sentiments as an educator,as I struggle to make my students real 21st century learners in a system that values outdated knowledge regurgitation for the pur This book is in many ways akin to a decent bottle of wine. It is good sampled alone, but better when you have people to share it with. It is a very concise and comprehensible look at what is wrong with our current education model, and it starts the churning of ideas for where education should be heading. This short read mirrors many of my own sentiments as an educator,as I struggle to make my students real 21st century learners in a system that values outdated knowledge regurgitation for the purpose of statistical outputs. Thankfully I have some peers and colleagues to share and discuss the types of ideas that are presented in is text, as my only real complaint is the lack of specific directions and methods for achieving educational reform. Then again, I guess that is the changing world/model we are preparing the children of today for anyway. Perhaps best that I am on the journey with them.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Book

    Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere by Will Richardson “Why School?" is an inspirational plea to a new vision of education that incorporates tools of learning that are all around us. The author’s contention is that the current educational system does not adequately provide what our kids need to know and thus doing school “differently” is necessary. Educator, blogger and author Will Richardson, provides the reader with a brief different vision of doi Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere by Will Richardson “Why School?" is an inspirational plea to a new vision of education that incorporates tools of learning that are all around us. The author’s contention is that the current educational system does not adequately provide what our kids need to know and thus doing school “differently” is necessary. Educator, blogger and author Will Richardson, provides the reader with a brief different vision of doing school. This stimulating brief 51-page book is broken out into two main parts: Part I: Old School and Part II: New School. Positives: 1. Brief and to the point. 2. An important topic, a “different” education. 3. A brief book that is intended to inspire and whet your appetite. Mission accomplished. 4. The impact of abundance of information and how it relates to education. 5. A look at the old educational model and why it fails in preparing children for future success in a fast-changing world. 6. A policy paper by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) that lists the new set of 21st-century literacies for all readers and writers. 7. The contrast between the two very different visions for educational change. The first is about doing what we currently do “better”. The second requires a fundamental revision of the value of school and the roles of teachers and classrooms. 8. Interesting and thought-provoking arguments, “What they don’t tell you, by the way, is that we just looked at test results from U.S. kids living in high-income homes, we would be first in the world in just about every category. Our scores reflect our very deep issues with poverty, not inherent problems with schools.” 9. The importance of discovery over delivery in education. “It’s a kind schooling that prepares students for the world they live in, not the one in which most of us grew up.” 10. The objectives and goals of the new school approach. The approach the steps to take. 11. The problems with standardized tests. 12. The six unlearning/relearning ideas for educators. Negatives: 1. No formal bibliography or links to websites or blogs to access from Kindle. In summary, this turned out to be quite an inspirational and compelling plea for a new approach in education. The author does a wonderful job of providing compelling arguments for a new or “different” vision of education. This brief book is quite quotable and the essence of it will stick with me. “Don’t teach my child science; instead, teach my child how to learn science…” If you are looking for an educational appetizer, this is a sweet treat indeed. I highly recommend it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael Koby

    When I was in high school (around 96-97) my parents let me read a book about why the public school system was screwed up. They might have been a little biased given that they were homeschooling their three children at the time (a trend that has since grown to be considered somewhat "normal"). But a lot of the books that are coming out now about how the school systems provided by the state (figurative & metaphorical) say basically the same thing as that book did back then. Basic gist of most of th When I was in high school (around 96-97) my parents let me read a book about why the public school system was screwed up. They might have been a little biased given that they were homeschooling their three children at the time (a trend that has since grown to be considered somewhat "normal"). But a lot of the books that are coming out now about how the school systems provided by the state (figurative & metaphorical) say basically the same thing as that book did back then. Basic gist of most of these books: Schools don't teach our kids how to think or how to learn but rather what to know in order to score well on a standardized test that helps determine how much money the school receives in assistance from the "state." This book is no different. While I agree with much of the premise of this book (teach the kinds how to learn, make connections, etc), this book makes one assumption I don't like. That assumption is that technology will always be available. Maybe it's my age, but I find this premise to be heavily flawed. Sure, technology isn't going anywhere, but to assume you will always have it at your disposal so a child shouldn't learn how to learn, think, and proceed without it is, to me, a bad idea. That's probably my one real critical thought on the whole thing. The rest is required reading if we have any intention of changing how our schools teach our future generations. Even if some of the conclusions are same old, same old, it's still something that needs to be both said and heard. And since people have been saying for almost 2 decades now, and people are just now starting to understand and see the problems, people need to keep saying it in as many different ways as they can. If you like this, I highly recommend Seth Godin's "Stop Stealing Dreams" as it's along similar lines.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Peter O'Brien

    “In this new narrative, learning ceases to focus on consuming information or knowledge that’s no longer scarce. Instead, it’s about asking questions, working with others to find the answers, doing real work for real audiences, and adding to, not simply taking from, the storehouse of knowledge that the Web is becoming. It’s about developing the kinds of habits and dispositions that deep, lifelong learners need to succeed in a world rife with information and connections. The emphasis shifts from c “In this new narrative, learning ceases to focus on consuming information or knowledge that’s no longer scarce. Instead, it’s about asking questions, working with others to find the answers, doing real work for real audiences, and adding to, not simply taking from, the storehouse of knowledge that the Web is becoming. It’s about developing the kinds of habits and dispositions that deep, lifelong learners need to succeed in a world rife with information and connections. The emphasis shifts from content mastery to learning mastery. That means students have more ownership over their own learning, using their access to knowledge and teachers to create their own unique paths to the outcomes we, and they, deem important.” In Why School?, Will Richardson questions why we need the establishment of primary, secondary and advanced level education that has remained largely unchanged for 150 years and which now finds itself greatly threatened by a fast-changing world that demands more flexibly proactive minded graduates and where all human knowledge is accessible from any device with access to the world wide web. Ultimately, Richardson is not arguing for the abolishment of state schools and universities, rather he is demonstrating the pressing need to radically reform the education curriculums and teaching methods of these institutions to bring compulsory and advanced level education in line with the needs that are demanded of graduates in today’s complex and globalised world. Richardson has divided the book into two halves. In the first half, Richardson provides an overview of the traditional education system in relation to how this outdated method and philosophy of pedagogy now finds itself at odds in the many technological and social developments of today ‘s world. The biggest problem with traditional education, Richardson argues, is its reliance on standardised testing and educating the students only with the knowledge necessary to ‘past the test,’ not necessarily knowledge or competency development that will enable students to lead healthy and happy and productive lives. The second half of the book presents Richardson’s outline and justification for a new wide-ranging educational approach to bridge the gap between old and new education that enable students to pass their tests AND provide them with the skillsets necessary to thrive in the real world. Richardson acknowledges that the old education system is not going anywhere anytime soon and that the best approach of reform will be to develop a hybrid pedagogy that combines the old with the new. Therefore, an education that still includes standardised testing, but embedded in a larger system that is centered around a greater integration and exploitation of more creative technologies and a pedagogical approach that would enable students to more proactively take on and determine the path of their own learning. In a nutshell, Richardson’s approach involves a great deal more practical engagement from the educators and the students based around the six focuses of (1) Share everything (or at least something); (2) Discover, don’t deliver, the curriculum; (3) Talk to strangers; (4) Be a master learner; (5) Do real work for real audiences; (6) Transfer the power. Overall, a very clear, concise and accessible read for educators and students alike.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gwen Nicodemus

    The author, Will Richardson, seems to have a good enough to background me to muse on about school, and sell a book about it. He taught school for years and has two teens. I think he was pegged by TED because he’s been blogging since 2001, has a bunch of followers, and incorporated the Web and technology into his classroom very early on. The gist Schools haven’t kept up with the world. Schools were designed to make educated-enough factory workers, but we don't need to make educated-enough factory w The author, Will Richardson, seems to have a good enough to background me to muse on about school, and sell a book about it. He taught school for years and has two teens. I think he was pegged by TED because he’s been blogging since 2001, has a bunch of followers, and incorporated the Web and technology into his classroom very early on. The gist Schools haven’t kept up with the world. Schools were designed to make educated-enough factory workers, but we don't need to make educated-enough factory workers because we don't have factory work jobs. Those jobs left the country and aren't coming back. We need creative thinkers. People into educational reform typically fall into two camps: better and different. The doing things better people believe that we should do what we have been doing, but do it better. The different people want a whole new mindset. We live in a world of knowledge abundance. What's the value of knowing a bunch of trivial details when anyone can Google those factoids on their smartphone? This is also why tests that ask detail questions (anything that can be answered via Google) are silly. We don’t need that trivia. We can look it up. What we need to be able to do is useful and creative things with the factoids we look up. So, teachers don’t need to lecture and spit out information. Teachers don't need to deliver information. Teachers need to facilitate kids’ learning. Teachers need to help kids discover, and to do this, teachers need to be learners first and teachers second. In Summary Why School? is a good read. If you don’t know much about this new model of education, it’s a great beginning. If you do know a bit about this model, it’s probably not worth our time, unless you want to read it just to feel validated.

  7. 4 out of 5

    George

    ENLIGHTENING, ENRICHING, AND THOUGHT PROVOKING "What doesn’t work any longer is our education system’s stubborn focus on delivering a curriculum that’s growing increasingly irrelevant to today’s kids, the outmoded standardized assessments we use in an attempt to measure our success, and the command-and-control thinking that is wielded over the entire process. All of that must be rethought." In his TED book and his TED talk video, ‘Why School,’ Will Richardson asks the crucial question: "What’s the ENLIGHTENING, ENRICHING, AND THOUGHT PROVOKING "What doesn’t work any longer is our education system’s stubborn focus on delivering a curriculum that’s growing increasingly irrelevant to today’s kids, the outmoded standardized assessments we use in an attempt to measure our success, and the command-and-control thinking that is wielded over the entire process. All of that must be rethought." In his TED book and his TED talk video, ‘Why School,’ Will Richardson asks the crucial question: "What’s the value of school now that opportunities for learning without it are exploding all around us?" Especially when, "Our story about education has gone basically unrevised for 150 years." In an age when information/knowledge is in abundance, why are we suffering a dearth of quality learning in our schools? Could it be that we are locked into antiquated models and systems. Could it be that teaching to (standardized) tests falls short of real, valid teaching? From a previous TED book I borrowed the quote: “Knowledge is a love affair with answers. Wisdom is a love affair with questions.” Today we have answers at our fingertips, in our pockets and in our backpacks. What’s needed now is the wisdom to better use the knowledge available. ‘Why School’ is a step in the right direction. Recommendation: A ‘should read’ for the educated, the uneducated, the undereducated, and for all those interested in better learning experiences. "…the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write. The illiterate will be those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." TED Books edition

  8. 5 out of 5

    Pete Welter

    A short TED book that pulls together in a concise form much of what I'd call *real* reform - that is, changing the form of education to fit today's realities and needs, and not reform that tries to do what we have been doing before more efficiently (that is, raise test scores). I've read enough Richardson to know that he and I generally agree, and his reading list an mine match up pretty exactly, so I'm not sure I learned a huge amount from this. I thought his quote on giving assessments that were A short TED book that pulls together in a concise form much of what I'd call *real* reform - that is, changing the form of education to fit today's realities and needs, and not reform that tries to do what we have been doing before more efficiently (that is, raise test scores). I've read enough Richardson to know that he and I generally agree, and his reading list an mine match up pretty exactly, so I'm not sure I learned a huge amount from this. I thought his quote on giving assessments that were "open network" rather than closed book was dead on. It's disheartening to see my girls taking tests that rely on them memorizing stuff that they just won't remember at all - and with good reason, because they can look it up in a few seconds on Google. I'm not quite as with Richardson on the need to gradually transition. I'm much closer to Yong Zhao's position that trying to both tradition and more creative/entrepreneurial-type is nearly impossible, because the former works directly AGAINST the latter. However, that's detail and the general message of the book is definitely worth reading.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Every parent must read this book. Schools must change, and educators need informed parents to help us reimagine school for our children. We have an education system designed to meet the needs of the 20th century. We are not preparing our kids for the world they will enter in 10-20 years. The critical skills they need have changed from when we were young. Read this short book to launch your education of how we need to redesign schools to really provide the education our children need.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    I think this book is an important one for any parent, grandparent, educator, administrator, businessperson -- human. If nothing else, it will serve to get a conversation started, and we need to be talking about this. Our education system must change to better reflect the advances we've made in technology and to better prepare our children to live in a world where technology has put so much information at our fingertips, 24/7. I think this book is an important one for any parent, grandparent, educator, administrator, businessperson -- human. If nothing else, it will serve to get a conversation started, and we need to be talking about this. Our education system must change to better reflect the advances we've made in technology and to better prepare our children to live in a world where technology has put so much information at our fingertips, 24/7.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Nice to get an easily read, unpadded book for low cost, via e-reader. If most books on education were this thoughtful and readable, perhaps more educators, parents and policy-makers would avail themselves of good thinking on education. Not much in the book is new thinking, but it's a very cogent summary of why we're in such trouble, educationally, in America. Nice to get an easily read, unpadded book for low cost, via e-reader. If most books on education were this thoughtful and readable, perhaps more educators, parents and policy-makers would avail themselves of good thinking on education. Not much in the book is new thinking, but it's a very cogent summary of why we're in such trouble, educationally, in America.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Pete

    Some good and important questions were raised in this book around what it means to "learn" in an age that has put the world, via technology, at our fingertips. And these questions were nicely embedded and contextualized in critiques of the profit-motive in neoliberal education "reforms". New paradigms for learning---especially those that go beyond droll standards-based education---are surely needed. And I appreciated this book for that. But I still struggle with reconciling these kinds of conver Some good and important questions were raised in this book around what it means to "learn" in an age that has put the world, via technology, at our fingertips. And these questions were nicely embedded and contextualized in critiques of the profit-motive in neoliberal education "reforms". New paradigms for learning---especially those that go beyond droll standards-based education---are surely needed. And I appreciated this book for that. But I still struggle with reconciling these kinds of conversations about school with the big conversations that center on social and racial justice. Are they really just separate conversations? Or do we have to pick and choose? Something I will continue to think about....

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Good wake up call for change Well thought out, yet short and sweet summary about how education is changing whether we want it to or not, and we'd best get on board with breaking the old paradigms so our kids have the best possible future. Good wake up call for change Well thought out, yet short and sweet summary about how education is changing whether we want it to or not, and we'd best get on board with breaking the old paradigms so our kids have the best possible future.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Catalina Latorre neira

    Great arguments, great stories, great examples. The only thing that's not really clear for me is if his kids still go to a traditional school... I would like to see how Richardson is working with his own children. I haven't watched the TED video yet... Great arguments, great stories, great examples. The only thing that's not really clear for me is if his kids still go to a traditional school... I would like to see how Richardson is working with his own children. I haven't watched the TED video yet...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra

    I read this as part of a class that I took, Ownership of Learning. The book was like a narration of a Ted Talk. He provided a lot to think about but did not provide data to support his opinions.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Fernando Martinez

    this book is absolutely terrific

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sherrice Mojgani

    This quick read is very relevant in this 2020 landscape where everything must change, and should change

  18. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Fackler

    What world will we have when we can pick and choose how and with whom we fulfill our curiosity.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    Had to stop at the 50% mark. Started off really great–fresh writing and original concept. But the halt starts at about the 30% mark and never quite picks up again.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Fab

    An intersting read, Richardson urges for an education which fits in with today's society, teaching pupils to learn and where to find/what to do with information is obviously more useful than filling them with a load of dates. I should imagine most teachers, like myself, are already integrating new technology into their lessons, as well as a lot of research projects, videos etc. my pupils are encouraged to photo the whiteboard & stick it on my teaching FB page so everyone has access to the lesson An intersting read, Richardson urges for an education which fits in with today's society, teaching pupils to learn and where to find/what to do with information is obviously more useful than filling them with a load of dates. I should imagine most teachers, like myself, are already integrating new technology into their lessons, as well as a lot of research projects, videos etc. my pupils are encouraged to photo the whiteboard & stick it on my teaching FB page so everyone has access to the lesson plan & HW for example. I should also think that, as he suggests, most teachers are constantly learning, at least about our profession, new methods and materials come along all the time and we need to be aware of them and question our teaching regularly. However, I'd like to answer his question why school? and also why exams? a) school is the cheapest, most efficient form of childcare available, it also the place where children learn how to behave in society and within their peer group. b) some basic knowledge is required to assimilate new knowledge, for example recently my pupils were able to work out why America's biggest chinatown is in SF, not NY, through their knowledge of the world map, you're also less likely to get a job if your applicatin letter's full of mistakes. c)In my opinion this is a middle class book based on a middle class issue, yes, you can justify that your child learns more out of school if you regularly get involved in in-depth discussions, watch documentaries, visit museums, do home science projects with him/her, however this is not the case for a percentage of the population, children who never see their parents read a book, or learn anything, or show any curiosity. d) as for exams, I agree that they are always the last area of change in any educational revolution, however how can you select candidates for jobs without diplomas? Other criteria are racist, sexist, or just too subjective. I doubt we will ever find the perfect school system, but I'll be following the debate.

  21. 4 out of 5

    The_tortie

    I read this book while considering the charter schools initiative that's on our ballot this November. Mr. Richardson's main point is that in an age where there is an abundance of information available (e.g., on the Internet, e-books just a 60-second download away, etc.), students need to become good learners, rather than actually learn things that they can easily look up. Leaving aside for a moment whether or not I agree with this position (I don't entirely), he makes a valid point about many o I read this book while considering the charter schools initiative that's on our ballot this November. Mr. Richardson's main point is that in an age where there is an abundance of information available (e.g., on the Internet, e-books just a 60-second download away, etc.), students need to become good learners, rather than actually learn things that they can easily look up. Leaving aside for a moment whether or not I agree with this position (I don't entirely), he makes a valid point about many of the school "reform" ideas being championed currently. "The path forward is to vilify teachers, to bust their unions, increase choice through charter schools, and promote online learning environments, all of which creates opportunities for businesses to claim a larger part of the education pie." The military-industrial complex becomes the academic-industrial complex, and schools become places where "technology is increasingly a tool to better deliver content, where a growing emphasis on passing the test becomes a business proposition, one tied to competing against other countries, schools, classrooms, teachers and students." I think this book correctly questions what it will mean to be "educated" in the 21st century, and presents several insightful, if provocative, suggestions for how our schools might better "educate" our students. The author's description of what a classroom experience looks like when a teacher helps his or her class "discover" the lesson (rather than delivering it), is truly inspiring. These are ideas worth reading and thinking about if you want to join in the school reform conversation.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Derrick Schneider

    While I definitely agree with the book's ideas, it's not clear that it's saying anything particularly new or different. This reads to me like a TED talk: lots of waving hands and talking big ideas from a person of privilege, but precious few facts. The anecdote he uses to launch the book is of his son who has time restrictions on Call of Duty, but is one day allowed a full day to play Minecraft with his friends. So, let's see: an XBox, a computer, Internet access, a social milieu of similar-class While I definitely agree with the book's ideas, it's not clear that it's saying anything particularly new or different. This reads to me like a TED talk: lots of waving hands and talking big ideas from a person of privilege, but precious few facts. The anecdote he uses to launch the book is of his son who has time restrictions on Call of Duty, but is one day allowed a full day to play Minecraft with his friends. So, let's see: an XBox, a computer, Internet access, a social milieu of similar-class friends, spare time, parents who are engaged with his education because they're not working multiple minimum-wage jobs to make ends meet. And I think it's safe to assume that his kid isn't malnourished, growing up in a culture where drugs and crime are normal and even celebrated by the pop-culture heroes, or facing deeply ingrained racism. (To be clear, I am fortunate enough to be privileged and so could be accused of behalfism here; but I don't write books telling everyone they should just do what I do to make their lives better.) It just seems like "rethinking how we educate" is a grand notion when faced with students who are struggling just with their lives. (Though, again, I agree that teachers such as he promotes would be great for every kid, and I agree that state-test-driven funding is harming instruction.) It's also always disheartening to see tech people trumpeting the Internet and basically ignoring the libraries around that have tons of information that is _not_ on the Internet (despite the starry-eyed arm-waving of this and similar screeds.)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

    Richardson makes some excellent points, especially when it comes to our narrow minded focus on high stakes assessment and traditional notions of teaching and learning. He clearly understands what it means to be a teacher, and I really liked the section where he argued for teachers seeing themselves as learners, too, and illustrating this to students. (I think far too many teachers feel that they stopped learning at some point, or perhaps they feel they no longer have the need to learn, neither o Richardson makes some excellent points, especially when it comes to our narrow minded focus on high stakes assessment and traditional notions of teaching and learning. He clearly understands what it means to be a teacher, and I really liked the section where he argued for teachers seeing themselves as learners, too, and illustrating this to students. (I think far too many teachers feel that they stopped learning at some point, or perhaps they feel they no longer have the need to learn, neither of which is the case.) At times, I think Richardson may overlook or at least undervalue the traditional role of the teacher and the positive aspects of the traditional school environment. Some of the fantastic examples, too, that he provides about collaborating with others are great, in theory, but not as simple in practice as they might sound. The much maligned "stack of papers" he mentioned that one teacher had sent home may not be as sexy or exciting as some of the technological stuff kids use daily, and maybe the kids, as he said, had no stake in any of it, but discounting their value completely (which seems to be the gist of that passage) seems a bit much. In closing, I wish everyone "pulling the strings" in the education world had Mr. Richardson's pragmatic and sensible outlook, as we teachers could probably accomplish much, much more.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stan Skrabut

    During my recent vacation, I had an opportunity to read a number of books; this is one of those books. As Will Richardson explains in his book, Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere*, he often struggled to get his son to do school work but watched in amazement as his son became a learning machine when introduced to Minecraft. His son not only learned how to use the program on his own but also tapped into an online network that supported his learning. During my recent vacation, I had an opportunity to read a number of books; this is one of those books. As Will Richardson explains in his book, Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere*, he often struggled to get his son to do school work but watched in amazement as his son became a learning machine when introduced to Minecraft. His son not only learned how to use the program on his own but also tapped into an online network that supported his learning. Because of this experience, Richardson wrote this book. He questions the purpose of school as  "real learning happens anytime, anywhere, with anyone we like". Read more

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This is a thought provoking and enlightening essay (very quick read) for anyone that is interested in the field of education, or has children that are currently in the education system. I wish these ideas were more mainstream when I was in school. I couldn't agree more that our educational model is outdated and doesn't prepare students for the rigors of the "real world". Our educational system focuses on testing students based on their recall of information that they will probably never use agai This is a thought provoking and enlightening essay (very quick read) for anyone that is interested in the field of education, or has children that are currently in the education system. I wish these ideas were more mainstream when I was in school. I couldn't agree more that our educational model is outdated and doesn't prepare students for the rigors of the "real world". Our educational system focuses on testing students based on their recall of information that they will probably never use again instead of encouraging students to be curious learners and to further develop their skills to continue the learning process. Richarson quoted Tony Wagner, "There's no competitive advantage today in knowing more than the person next to you. The world doesn't care what you know. What the world cares about is what you can do with what you know." I wonder exactly how the educational models around the world may change over the next coming decade as more and more educators, parents etc question the existing model.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Pegi Hover

    I judge my reads by three things, entertainment, transfer of interesting information or thought provocation. Will Richardson's "Why School" fulfilled the latter in spades. The school where I teach is in the midst of an identity crisis following a very intense accreditation process. "Why School" addresses the very core of our struggle, which is to move into the next age of education by meeting students where they exist, the digital world. The author makes good points about the advantages...and pr I judge my reads by three things, entertainment, transfer of interesting information or thought provocation. Will Richardson's "Why School" fulfilled the latter in spades. The school where I teach is in the midst of an identity crisis following a very intense accreditation process. "Why School" addresses the very core of our struggle, which is to move into the next age of education by meeting students where they exist, the digital world. The author makes good points about the advantages...and provides important ideas about how, as an educator, to make yourself a viable medium in the digital classroom. He does not, however, address some of the nuts and bolts problems of assessing, individually, considering the time constraints of a modern school day, the performance (learning) in this education environment. Still, as a happy medium kind of gal, he makes me want, certainly in my own classroom, to implement more digital strategies.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alixandra Johnson

    While I completely agree with the authors goal for reformed education, I felt that he had a very one sided, middle class view on what education should be, and how it should be implemented. He challenges teachers to use technology and the abundance of information and learning potential it holds while barely taking notice of the wide array of students in our educational system, for whom technology and the information it holds is not abundant. For a school with resources - good teachers and the sup While I completely agree with the authors goal for reformed education, I felt that he had a very one sided, middle class view on what education should be, and how it should be implemented. He challenges teachers to use technology and the abundance of information and learning potential it holds while barely taking notice of the wide array of students in our educational system, for whom technology and the information it holds is not abundant. For a school with resources - good teachers and the support staff - to realize this goal, his ideas of what cooperative learning should look like are beautiful. But to move forward with his proposed educational system, or country needs to take a far bigger issue of failing school - ones that do not have an abundance of teachers, technology and collective knowledge. Overall he did a very good job of recognizing a problem and goal but missed the solution, something he could have done in far fewer pages.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Martha

    Provocative! So interesting to read why we need to change how learning happens in our schools...so that our kids are ready to know how to deal with the information overload when they are out on their own. I have heard Will speak in person and he is even more convincing in person. Why do we need to know a specific detail about the Gumpta Empire when we can just Google it now? Why not teach, instead, how we can apply what the Gumpta Civilazation might have taught us? Why limit ourselves to the ins Provocative! So interesting to read why we need to change how learning happens in our schools...so that our kids are ready to know how to deal with the information overload when they are out on their own. I have heard Will speak in person and he is even more convincing in person. Why do we need to know a specific detail about the Gumpta Empire when we can just Google it now? Why not teach, instead, how we can apply what the Gumpta Civilazation might have taught us? Why limit ourselves to the inside of one classroom or even the inside of one school district? Why not learn with and from others around the world? I love the idea about publishing more work done in school rather then send home the Friday folder each week (which I hate!)! A very good and quick read...and worth the few dollars:)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tisha White

    Why School? brings up something that I have had a problem with for years, standardized testing. The author suggests ways we can change school and rather than teaching to the test, teach kids the skills the need to problem solve, rather than just memorize facts. With so much information at our fingertips thanks to Google and smartphones, it seems silly to require kids to learn when the Civil War started, or who was the 22nd president of the United States. This book is the "big read" for my son's Why School? brings up something that I have had a problem with for years, standardized testing. The author suggests ways we can change school and rather than teaching to the test, teach kids the skills the need to problem solve, rather than just memorize facts. With so much information at our fingertips thanks to Google and smartphones, it seems silly to require kids to learn when the Civil War started, or who was the 22nd president of the United States. This book is the "big read" for my son's school, meaning every kid has to read it, and they suggested that parents also read it. I'm glad they did, and I hope to see these suggestions being implemented in schools in the near future. The author provides his Twitter handle and web site at the end of the book so you can continue the conversation with him. I urge anyone in the education system or parents or students to do so.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Justine Camacho-Tajonera

    I read this book as a supplement to studying in a MOOC (massive, open, online course), eLearning and Digital Cultures by the University of Edinburgh via Coursera.org. It's very relevant to read it now as I am homeschooling my six year old son and bewildered by all the options and how to instill in him a genuine love of learning. I agree with Will Richardson that things need to change. Traditional education no longer addresses what students of this day and age need. But how to navigate? What struc I read this book as a supplement to studying in a MOOC (massive, open, online course), eLearning and Digital Cultures by the University of Edinburgh via Coursera.org. It's very relevant to read it now as I am homeschooling my six year old son and bewildered by all the options and how to instill in him a genuine love of learning. I agree with Will Richardson that things need to change. Traditional education no longer addresses what students of this day and age need. But how to navigate? What structures, if any, will help both me and my son? He gives good starting points like the example projects he cites wherein the learner collaborates with others to answer important questions and create real solutions or present meaningful frameworks for the question.

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