August 14, 2017

Giving Up Control

By Bellwether

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The post below is by guest blogger Mike Goldstein

Hi wonks.  A few thoughts this week from Red Sox country.

On Being An Acton Academy Parent is a blog I’ve come to treasure.  It’s by Laura Sandefer, who combines her voice as Acton’s co-founder with her role as a mom.  A recent entry:

<<(Coach Carpenter) came to P.E. when he should have called in sick. He had a sore throat and a headache, but it was the last class of the session and he wanted to be there. No way was he up to running up and down the field, though, much less doing the “Acton Insanity!” warm-up.

So he called over a couple of the older Eagles (students).

“I’m sick,” he said. “You mind running the show today?”

Was it perfect?  No.  Was there anarchy?  A little.

Did they love it?  YES!

Coach Carpenter had the long summer break to think about what he saw that day and about where the school was heading. Was he ready to change? Was he okay with giving up control?>>

Read the whole thing here.

When a school maxes on “self-directed” and/or “personalized” learning, there are tradeoffs.  At Acton, student agency is baked into the org DNA.  But when the same concept is foisted on traditional schools, Zombie Reform is often the result, says the estimable Larry Cuban.

He cites four 20th century iterations of this heavyweight fight: age-graded schools in one corner, personalized learning in the other corner.  So far “age-graded school” is 4-0, all knockouts.


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