50 Crazy Ideas To Change Education [Updated]

Make any politician voting on legislation have to qualify for that right to vote by spending a certain number of hours in the classroom.

50 Crazy Ideas To Change Education

What Ideas Could Change Education?

by Terry Heick

Below are 50 ideas for a new education. Note, most of these are about education as a system rather than learning itself, but that’s okay. It’s often the infrastructure of learning that obscures anyway. Few of them may work; even fewer would work together, and that’s okay too. As long as we’re dreaming anyway, let’s get a little crazy.

  1. Make connectivity and interdependence the catalyst for all learning–digital, physical, human, ecological, political, etc.
  2. Stop claiming every child will be proficient. (Find find something else to promise.)
  3. Have students design their own quality criteria, and develop frameworks to help them understand how.
  4. Celebrate learning by celebrating learning models–every school is branded by that model and approach, rather than historical names and empty mascots. Embrace that there is no best way to teach and learn.
  5. Don’t make attendance compulsory. Make classrooms places students want to be.
  6. Stop using the words and phrases proficient, best practice, and student engagement; stop reporting proficiency through demographic groups, and instead do so individually.
  7. Have a group of successful professionals document the 10 most important things they know, and the 10 most important skills. Then compare and contrast them with national academic standards.
  8. Let students use smartphones in the classroom. This is not a school problem, it is a learning model problem.
  9. Have every school be ‘adopted’ by one business, one organization, and one institution of higher education. These can become advocates for the school and its students.
  10. Live stream classrooms. Yes, there are privacy and safety concerns, here. We can make banks safe; let’s make classroom-sharing safe.
  11. Listen to teachers.
  12. Make any politician voting on legislation have to qualify for that right to vote by spending a certain number of hours in the classroom.
  13. Ask parents what families need from the school.
  14. Make it easy for families to see how they can meaningfully contribute to the school.
  15. Throw out all content-based academic standards.
  16. Make school walls invisible—literally made of glass. 
  17. Ditch internet ‘filters’ and instead make all access transparent to parents and guardians, and published in schools for all to see.
  18. Be honest when things don’t work, are boring, or are wastes of time.
  19. Eliminate all in-person staff meetings. Maybe one a month? Quarterly?
  20. Transform all schools to cultural centers with cutting-edge experts, technology, and programs. (See Things Schools Could Be Besides Schools.)
  21. Stop encouraging students to go to overpriced colleges that fail to improve students’ lives, and that perpetuate a system that stifles innovation and equity.
  22. Make elementary school about literacy, creativity, and play–and that’s it.
  23. Make middle school about self-discovery, accountability, and an introduction to how to find and evaluate information they care about.
  24. Make high school about citizenship, thinking habits, and guided participation in physical and digital networks.
  25. Fund schools with the precision and zest and ambition of a venture capitalist
  26. Treat the best teachers like stars: Give them reality shows, endorsement deals, and huge contracts.
  27. If students underperform (regardless of the terms of said performance), hold them accountable as well. Find a way–and it can’t be punishment. It has to be meaningful, possibly social, and absolutely knowledge-based.
  28. Make students accountable to one another, not teachers. And use a different word–make it positive.
  29. If we don’t celebrate learning the way we do swagger and controversy in entertainment, let’s stop being surprised when students love Beyonce more than Aristotle.
  30. Every teacher is an expert in something. Use that expertise to lift your school and district.
  31. Pay every teacher, administrator, etc., the same.
  32. Educators: Stop patronizing edtech like brand fanatics.
  33. Use a grading system that starts at zero, not 100. (See Additive Grading.)
  34. Make school budgets entirely transparent.
  35. Throw out letter grades and test scores forever. At most, move to a 0, 1, 2–didn’t complete the work, completed without meeting quality criteria, completed while meeting quality criteria.
  36. Stop asking so much of teachers and administrators.
  37. Stop oversimplifying teaching and learning.
  38. Let teachers drive their own professional development
  39. Make sure anyone on a school board or committee understands what it means to understand something and the realities of leading a dizzying mix of students to that point for dozens and dozens of standards. Then they can vote, make policies, hire, etc.
  40. Promote learning through networks, not curriculum. (And while we’re on the subject, ban all scripted curriculum.)
  41. Make joy, curiosity, and the ability to ask the right question at the right time the criteria by which we measure a school.
  42. Worry less about teaching evolution, and more about evolving teaching.
  43. Rebrand teaching and learning completely the same way Apple has done with computers, Starbucks has coffee, and Nike has jogging.
  44. Stop demonizing teachers for the increasing cultural apathy to formal education.
  45. Push the government out of schools completely.
  46. Design complex mentorship and apprenticeship programs for all students older than 13.
  47. Use curriculum based around thinking habits, and the ability to know what’s worth understanding rather than “content.”
  48. Use curriculum based on the ability to self-direct and design their own learning pathways.
  49. Require parents, community experts, and business leaders to teach or co-teach.
  50. Stop teaching–which is a push-pull action; instead, promote learning.
  51. Use YouTube channels or curated, updated video/digital playlists instead of textbooks.
  52. Eliminate all hierarchy of any kind in schools.
  53. Use podcasts and social media channels and live video streaming to supplement physical classrooms.
  54. Make libraries more like app stores with technology that excites students–that they want to use.
  55. Create curriculum that functions like a playlist, and that browses like Google search results; require students to document their own understanding.
  56. Allow students to decide what they do and don’t want to learn; insist only that the learn something.
  57. Treat the goal of education as self-knowledge: What do I need to know and what could I do with what I know?
  58. Design every school as a think tank to understand and address local problems and opportunities.

50 Crazy Ideas To Change Education; 50 Radical Ideas In Education