Monday, December 23, 2013

The Hackschooling Mindset

Many of you have probably already watched the brilliant TED Talk by 13-year old Logan LaPlante. I'm placing my bet right now that "hack" will be one of the 2014 Words of the Year - cause it gets right to the heart of what is happening to all institutions in society today.  This is the world the web is making, and there ain't no stopping it.  As humans, we've had our historical transitions that fundamentally transformed how we relate to the planet and to each other: the Neolithic transition to agriculture, the Industrial Revolution's transition to intensive energy use, and today, the Internet-borne access to information, to ideas, and to each other.

It's hard to clearly recognize and analyze all the dynamics of a revolution as you're in the middle of it.  But floods of books and blog posts are all attempting to do just that.  In my opinion, one of the most fundamental dynamics: The Hack Mindset.

The Hack Mindset is the spectrum opposite of Status Quo.  Nothing is "just the way it is."  Nothing goes unquestioned.  Nothing goes untried.  Hacking equals creative innovation.  Hacking equals fearlessness.  Hacking says, "Maybe we can do better.  And maybe we can't, but we won't know until we try."  It's the mindset that Logan is inheriting AND helping to create.

So, as a teacher . . . one of the first big questions that pops into my mind is: How do we hack schools - every school - so that students do not need to drop out and homeschool like Logan has?  How do we bring the lessons, spirit - the essence - of Logan's school hacking insights to our education system as a whole?

The answer to that question is as complex and dynamic as the Internet Revolution itself.  But if education of our youth is fundamental to the wellbeing of society, then this needs to be one of society's fundamental questions.  The answer is unfolding in schools across the country (prime example: The Partnership for Change in Burlington & Winooski, VT).  The answer is in asking young people like Logan what they are passionate about.  It is in teachers breaking through the isolation and collaborating through Professional Learning Communities.  It is in the uses of technology for authentic student learning.  It is in the rethinking of assessments, the focus on project-based learning, and the importance of social-emotional learning.  It's everywhere, and it's happening.

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