I’d almost forgotten that we’d gotten off on an interesting tangent at one of the NECC 2008 EdubloggerCon conversations. It was Will Richardson’s discussion group on Here Comes Everybody, the current bestselling book by Clay Shirky. Will has done a couple of terrific blog posts about this book (here’s one), and recently did an interview with the author.
We were talking about revolutions, and whether education is ready for one, and why is it taking so darn long when it’s so obvious that we need one. My comment was that most revolutions don’t happen for the right reasons, they often happen for disconnected reasons that somehow push a mass of people past a tipping point, or when something happens that shocks people out of behaviors that seem set in stone.
And in fact, my example was that gas prices may well be the catalyst for the educational revolution we’ve all been waiting for; that arguing for a revolution may well be a waste of time, but that being prepared may make all the difference.
Chris Lehmann’s recent blog post, Why Educational Change is Hard (and the limits of “Here Comes Everybody” for schools, brings this up in a different way. He writes, “We have to understand, in ways that Shirky describes, why low-risk mediocrity is almost predictably a better outcome than high-risk success.”
Revolutions stall at the gate because of this. Revolutions are high-risk endeavors. “The devil you know…” (which is such a good cliche that you don’t even have to finish the sentence.) Revolutions aren’t planned by committees of well-meaning citizens. Something unpredictable happens, and then history is written by the prepared and the lucky.
Will gas prices be the tipping point for an educational revolution? Perhaps. Will it be the revolution we want? Maybe. I certainly think it has the potential to deliver the kind of systemic, no-boundaries impact that could shake the basic structure of school as we know it.
Once you mess with the bus schedule, can the bell schedule be far behind?