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  • Writer's pictureAmy Burvall

FutureSchool: A Teen Perspective #edcmooc

Since we’ve been exploring the future of education / ed reform in #edcmooc, I thought I’d share something my IB Theory of Knowledge students participated in last semester, as we examined the Nature of Knowledge / Learning, and the History of “Schooling”.

Throughout the semester we watched several TEd talks and other videos by great people like Sir Ken Robinson, Will Richardson, Michael Wesch, Clay Shirky, and Stephen Fry. One of the best was Seth Godin’s TEdxYouth@BFS talk based on his “Stop Stealing Dreams” book.

We then read and collaboratively annotated the book in our Diigo group, focusing on the overarching question:

What is School For?

Some choice excerpts (though you can read them all in the link):

“I still think kids are an investment in our economic future. If the future isn’t educated they can’t improve society like every generation has managed to do. You give your children an education and you expect some sort of return on that down payment of sorts. But thankfully a good investment isn’t a docile and obedient generation anymore.”

“Our mind has been comprised. We have been trained by movies to think that a normal school is “underfunded processing facility, barely functioning, with bad behavior, questionable security and most of all, very little learning.” If we are supposed to “believe” in high school than why do they want us to look at high schools the way we do?

“I think that we should have courses that will help us prepare for the responsibilities of being an adult. I think that in high school we should learn how to write checks, how to pay taxes, how to purchase houses and cars and how to set up retierment plans, to buy and sell stocks”

I feel like an inanimate product. This article makes me so frustrated because I’m already almost done with school and I know that it’s too late to save me!”

“If students must take a math class they should take a math class with material in it that they will actually need. CONSUMER MATH! Why do we barely touch on it when it’s the thing we will be using so much when we are adults??”

“This guy really, really hates conventional schooling. Amplify fear and destroy passion? Is school really that much of an Orwellian dystopia?”

“You choose to learn, if you are willing to learn, you learn. Learning is not done to you.

“I think that speech classes should be a top priority for schools all over the country. If we want to create leaders, that is the way to do it. Many people have great ideas. The problem is that many people do not know how to get the ideas to the public. Afterall, an idea is hardly an idea if nothing comes out of it”

“I think kids would be more passionate if they had more responsibility (less hand-holding) and if they were given access to all kinds of information (the internet) and given problems to solve–relevant, real-world problems that require thinking


For part of their Semester Exam, I gave the students the task of reading some articles and viewing a YouTube playlist and then creating a vlog response proposing their


“You should already have an understanding of the changes in society, media, and the acquisition, transmission, collection, curation, and archiving of “knowledge” and information in the 21st century due to rapid, exponential technological change. The resources (videos and articles) should really help you develop some ideas of your own. What would be the top 10 things you would recommend in schools (any level)? You need to refer specifically to at least 4 of the videos in the playlist and you may comment on: all aspects of school, including curriculum, nuts-and-bolts (bells, time, organization), physical space / environment, etc.”

After viewing all the vlogs, I compiled a list of the most popular ideas:

You can see all the main ideas on the Google doc, but here are some that were voiced repeatedly:

  1. practical courses (like consumer math, finances, life skills, workshop/woodshop

  2. get rid of: bells, harsh lights, uncomfortable furniture and incorporate; music, attractive colors, interesting decor, comfy furniture

  3. more tech integration – esp. mobile

  4. internships and real-world experience

  5. meaningful work – purpose ; no more busy work; students need to be able to make connections (esp. to real- world) – will equal student buy-in

  6. students grouped not by age, but ability and interest

  7. high expectations but more freedom

  8. designated and well-designed spaces for everything – tinkering, quiet study, direct instruction, relaxation

Here is the compilation video I made with some selected student voices:

Here is the entire vlog playlist:

#student #educationYouTube #edcmooc #sethgodin #vlogging #teen #edreform

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