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Time for a Revolution

All around we see revolution. The world as we thought we knew it is rapidly changing. I’m not talking about technologically, I’m talking about politically. 2011 had become the year of revolution.

Why is this happening? Is it just because technology has drastically magnified our ability to connect like-minded people, with dramatic results? Or is it something more?
Well, I vote for something more–I think what we have is a very potent combination of technology and youth. The median age in Egypt and Libya is 24 years and half of Yemen’s population is under 18! That’s a stunning statistic! (To put this in perspective, the median age in the US is almost 37 years, in Australia 37.5 years, and in Canada it’s almost 41 years.) These young people know that change cannot come if we succumb to the ‘tranquilizing drug of gradualism’ (Martin Luther King, August, 1963). Combine overwhelming ease of communicating, sharing, and co-constructing ideology and action with a very young population, a population that believes that unless action happens swiftly, it gets diluted and beaten down, and what you get is a brew that is clearly world-changing.

Interesting as this is, what does it have to do with anytime, anywhere learning? It’s hard not to notice the other place where we see a population being served that is almost 100% 18 and under, technologically savvy, and unsatisfied – K-12 education! You may argue that changes are happening, meted out bit by bit by a much older population that has a whole bureaucracy and many industries to protect. We in education throw around terms like reform or, better yet, transformation when we’re actually floating in the soothing warm waters of incrementalism. But beware - revolution may be inevitable.

What if:
Students refuse to take tests that are not designed to help them learn but rather that condemn them for every mistake they make with judgments that impact not just their lives but the livelihoods of the adults in the system, as well as property values and the reputation of their neighborhood or town?

Students walk out of stultifying-ly boring classes where they’re required to sit for hours as someone lectures on content some other person in an office somewhere determined they must know to be granted a document that states that they sat quietly for 13 years?

Students finally find their voice and insist that it be heard, that they all, not just the lucky few, be allowed to own their learning and find and develop their passions? That they spend their youth engaged, excited, and eager to learn and not be processed through like yesterday’s Model-T’s?

What if that happened? Would you listen?

If you think this is an unlikely scenario, perhaps you need to think again. Look around. How long will young people wait? How patient will they - can they be? It’s their youth and they won’t get a second chance. If we don’t change, change may, no will happen anyway.

I think it's time for a revolution!
April 6th, 2011 @ 3:07PM