What is the value of school?

Before I left for Turkey, my mom got me a Barnes and Noble gift card so that I could download fun things on my new and fancy, black magic Nook. Today I finally used it and downloaded Why School: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere. As a teacher and learning enthusiast, this title jumped out at me. I’m only about six pages in, but the author, Will Richards, has already raised enough valid points and questions that I felt the strong urge to send these questions into the blogosphere.

“In this new story, real learning happens anytime, anywhere, with anyone we like–not just with a teacher and some same-age peers, in a classroom, from September to June. More important, it happens around the things we learners choose to learn, not what someone else tells us to learn.

This new story requires us to ask the difficult yet crucial question: why school? I’m not suggesting we consider scrapping school altogether. I’m suggesting that this moment requires us to think deeply about why we need school. Or to ask, more specifically, what’s the value of school now that opportunities for learning without it are exploding all around us?”
This is not exactly a question that I want to answer right away. It should take some time and thought, and perhaps research. I know that, as a student, I enjoy the school setting; I enjoy classrooms and lectures and class discussions and exposure to things that perhaps I would not stumble upon on my own. Yes, I enjoy learning and researching and reading on my own, but I really do enjoy the structure of school as well. But as a teacher, I am constantly challenged to appeal to students who do not enjoy a traditional classroom setting. So what is the value of school? What can we learn in school that we can’t learn out of it? And how is the structure advantageous to the current generation? I’m not sure yet, but I’m going to keep reading and get back to you. In the meantime, I’m interested to hear the thoughts of others on this topic.
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One thought on “What is the value of school?

  1. Ohhhh, Tessa. These are probably the most important questions we can ask and the sooner the better. We need to identify our basic education assumptions and challenge them practically daily because they’re changing so fast. The school walls are coming down, no doubt. You’re in an exciting seat both to watch and participate. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the book and so happy that you’re willing to participate.

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