In this episode of Zac talks with Darren Hudgins and Bud Hunt about design challenges for learning with a focus on teacher development. The guys also talk risk aversion in education and where it might start.
This week’s reading takes us back to Losing Ground by Charles Murray. While the opening chapters bordered on the ridiculous in their cherry picking of facts, avoidance of sources and generally fallacious arguments, these final chapters were particularly frustrating. Surely conservative thinkers have a stronger argument to make than Murray’s. I’ve decided to think of this series of posts as “Reading, so you don’t have to.”
It is unlikely one will find a graph axis label that gives the appearance of saying much while, in reality, saying so little as the vertical label Murray includes on page 168, “Odds of Going Unarrested for 5 Crimes.” It acts as a suitable metaphor for the contents of the chapter.
The second graph on page 169 presents readers with an even more confusing story. Within the text, Murray points to the span between 1961 and 1969 as particularly unsettling because the number of incarcerated citizens fell so sharply. He fails to mention or find any problem with the soaring incarceration rates beginning in the early 70s.
Murray implies throughout the opening of this chapter that police stopped arresting criminals and that crime rates were skyrocketing. In looking closely, his only mention of actual crime rates comes not from national statistics, but within Cook County, IL. Even then, Murray is making mention not of an actual increase in number of crimes, but concerns himself with juvenile crime (in this one county) “entering its highest rate of increase” (p.170). His conclusion that no reason existed not to commit delinquent acts in the 1970s is a strange one. Murray needed only look at his own graph to see the youth he mentions standing on the street corner had a fairly likely chance of knowing someone who had been arrested and imprisoned for committing a crime.
When turning his attention to education, Murray continues his focus on punishments and sanctions. His description of the frustrations inherent in working in schools with students from varied backgrounds was not incorrect. Students with little support from home present special challenges for learning. These are challenges that often require new approaches to teaching. Murray, once again assumes an external locus of control. This is not surprising, considering his application of such a theory to people living in poverty, those considering criminal activity, and Harold & Phyllis’ decision of whether or not to go on welfare. Children, like the adults Murray considers, are to be considered as driven solely by external forces.
Suspensions and expulsions, Murray reasons were key tools in helping students learn. Those who found themselves suspended had made their choice, and rejected the opportunity to learn. In defending these tools, Murray again ignores race and shows no signs of awareness of or interest in the school-to-prison pipeline that was developing in America at the time. Further, in his dismissal of African American efforts to shift schooling for their children, Murray shows an ahistorical understanding of the goals and work of those schools as we discussed in class.
Murray’s main argument about education (that the inclusion of disinterested students who would otherwise have found themselves suspended or expelled destroyed the learning of interested students and lowered the standards of teachers) comes not surprisingly without evidence to support his claims. More frustrating is Murray’s lack of interest in changing what was going on inside of schools rather than kicking students out of them. He appears to be making a “business as usual” argument that education would have been fine if we could have kept the bad kids out. Again, this shows a lack of consideration of the ways in which the world was changing during the 60s and 70s. Murray would have done well to consider the idea that the misalignment of the world within the classroom with the world outside the classroom might have had more to do with a lack of student interest than the removal of the “bad” students.
One final note about this chapter, on page 177, Murray writes, “For blacks, the uncertainty and distance of the incentive have been compounded by discrimination that makes it harder to get and hold jobs.” Here, the emotional baggage of race in America moves to support his purpose and is picked up again. It raises the question of whether Murray ignored race in the previous chapter because it could muddy the clarity he found in his argument about welfare incentives.
This week’s reading takes us back to Losing Ground by Charles Murray. While the opening chapters bordered on the ridiculous in their cherry picking of facts, avoidance of sources and generally fallacious arguments, these final chapters were particularly frustrating. Surely conservative thinkers have a stronger argument to make than Murray’s.
In chapters 12, Murray continues to use an interesting approach to analyzing changes in American poverty beginning in the early-to-mid 1960s and using the 1950s as a basis of comparison. He decides not to look at the whole history. In the opening to Ch. 12, Murray writes, “It is not necessary to invoke the Zeitgeist of the 1960s, or changes in the work ethic, or racial differences, or the complexities of postindustrial economies, in order to explain increasing unemployment among the young, increased dropout from the labor force, or higher rates of illegitimacy and welfare dependency“ (p. 154). Here, as in earlier chapters, Murray is discounting the importance of other forces that may have been at work in shifting poverty rates and one of his main premises – that America started thinking differently about what it means to be poor.
While I understand the careless and ambiguous approach to data, charts, graphs, etc. could be particularly pernicious, this declaration of consideration of only pieces of the culture and society he’s decided to include undermines his entire argument. What’s more, Murray furthers his myopic analysis on the next page, writing, “Let us drop the racial baggage that goes with the American context and make the point first in a less emotional setting” (p. 155). He then presents an example set in a developing nation as though his invocation of race in would not be in his readers’ minds. It is akin to telling someone not to picture an elephant. While this may be as easy for Murray as putting the sentence to the page, for those he writes about, separating race from any aspect of the American experience is not nearly so easy. It can be taken as more evidence to support the claim stated in last week’s class that Murray’s argument is meant more as permission for those feeling white guilt to let those feelings go. “It’s not about race, “ he writes in one form or another throughout the text. Yet, to deny race or drop the emotional baggage it includes only works to highlight Murray’s ignorance (fabricated or authentic) of the multitude of factors involved in poverty and class in America.
The crux of his argument in Ch. 12, though, is the story of Harold and Phyllis and Murray’s explanation of how these two might navigate having a child together in 1960 versus 1970 and their options in attempting to make ends meet. In presenting these characters, Murray takes great pains to work against the stereotype of a welfare recipient his target readership would likely hold. Through all of his detail, Murray’s subtext seems to be shouting, “No, they’re white, so you wouldn’t expect them to be on welfare.” This fact aside, Murray’s stated purpose is to have us ask, “[W]hat course of action makes sense?” (p. 157). Here, he asks us not only to strip away the cultural factors that might play a role in Harold and Phyllis’ decisions, but to strip away aspects of their humanity as well. They will be driven by the logic of the math. Aside from removing any intrinsic will to work a job, Murray returns to his old tricks involving explaining the math of the situation. The explanation of Harold and Phyllis’ options in 1970 is particularly slippery, moving back and forth between the real amounts in 1970 and their 1980 equivalents. A reader could easily lose their way through the description to walk away with the idea that Harold and Phyllis were receiving a few hundred dollars per week through welfare benefits.
Murray’s prejudice is further displayed in his explanation of Phyllis’ decision to keep the baby. He removes all sense of agency and independence from his subject when he implies her two choices for “economic insurance” are either the government support her baby elicits or the support of a husband. It’s a disturbing image that also works against the bootstrap endgame Murray has been working toward throughout the book. Evidently, only men can pick themselves up out of poverty, and women can pick themselves up by latching on to a man on his way up.
In the end, it is not inconceivable that a couple who found themselves in the shoes of 1970 Harold and Phyllis could approach their situation in the calculated mathematical manner Murray describes. That this would be the case for all is not only unlikely, but highly insulting as well.
 This is to say nothing of the normalized assumptions about the benefits of the couple living together, which is presented devoid of any nuance of analysis of whether the economic best choice is also best for the socio-emotional needs of all three.
As part of this week’s reading for my policy course, we’ve been asked to take a look at Charles Murray’s seminal tome, Losing Ground. While my reaction to the text is different than my reading of Dewey’s Experience & Education, it seemed this might be a good chance to put another side of the argument into perspective.
Murray sets his sights on education in Ch. 7 and gives it a treatment no different than the previous three chapters.
Murray’s main point about education in the mid-to-late 60s is that minority populations, namely African Americans, were making progress at closing the gap with their white peers and that social welfare policies and moves to bring equity to the system messed that up.
At the outcomes end of the argument, he points to the findings of A Nation at Risk to show somewhere between the incremental gains in test scores in the 50s and the dire story told by Risk, we started charting the wrong course as a country. While I’d agree with his course contestation, Murray and I diverge when he points to federal programs aimed at equity as causing the widening of educational gaps.
In fact, Murray appears to ignore the unrest and riots of the late 60s in African American neighborhoods when groups of citizens saw violent riots as the means left to them following legislation and judicial decree’s failure to bring the equity of opportunity the country had promised. As I was reading, I found myself wanting to put my arm around Murray and say, “Don’t you think riots (understandable or not) finding their epicenters in the middle of African American communities might have done something to scar communities and detract from whatever education was happening in classrooms?” This is to say nothing of political scandal and a series of military actions that called a disproportionate number of unfortunate sons from the African American community? While I don’t know enough and there might not be the kind of data we need to know whether the policies Murray cites had a negative causal relationship with minority academic achievement between 1964 and the release of A Nation at Risk, I don’t believe the numbers are there to support the kind of sweeping claims he’s making.
One final piece about this chapter. Of Risk, Murray writes:
Only scattered, limited criticisms of the report were voiced, despite the harsh language that the commission used. Few were prepared to defend the state of American education.
Charles Murray. Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980, 10th Anniversary Edition (Kindle Locations 1243-1244). Kindle Edition.
While I have many possible arguments as to why this was true, the one that sticks in my mind the most was Murray’s own from Ch. 3. Perhaps defending American education was out of fashion. With the ascendance of President Reagan and the shifting of American politics to a more conservative favor, was this yet another conversation we failed to have as country because the conservative elite, led by Secretary Bell had picked up another trend of demonizing public education and deficit modeling that’s remained the model ever since.
Since freedom resides in the operations of intelligent observation and judgment by which a purpose is developed, guidance given by the teacher to the exercise of the pupils’ intelligence is an aid to freedom, not a restriction upon it.
- John Dewey
Experience & Education
For Chapter 6, Dewey continues clarification of terms, setting his sights on purpose.
The chapter provides yet another clarification of the frequent view that Dewey was proposing a melee approach to learning, letting students loose in a situation and then cleaning them up for learning later on. In Ch. 6, we find the opposite as Dewey highlights the importance of pausing in moments of impulse so that those impulses might lead to desire.
If the earlier chapters were instructing readers on the importance of a philosophical and critically considered approach to the broader scope of progressive education, here we find that need translated to the individual classrooms and students. What is being done, at all times, must be considered thoughtfully. While this is not surprising from a philosopher, Dewey’s considerations are not philosophical as much as they are practical.
If we are to have purpose in education, we must consider our impulses regarding our experiences, hold tight to them, and reflect on how (or whether) we would like to see them enacted.
To do this, Dewey asks that teachers and students observe the surroundings of the learning and move from there to collect knowledge, organize that knowledge and then set out with purpose driven by that knowledge.
He sets it out in clearer terms:
The formation of purposes is, then, a rather complex intellectual operation. It involves (1) observation of surrounding conditions; (2) knowledge of what has happened in similar situations in the past, a knowledge obtained partly by recollection and partly from the in- formation, advice, and warning of those who have had a wider experience; and (3) judgment which puts together what is observed and what is recalled to see what they signify. A purpose differs from an original impulse and desire through its translation into a plan and method of action based upon foresight of the consequences of acting under given observed conditions in a certain way.
Rather than rejecting tools of traditional education wholesale, Dewey asks for a blending. Attend to the impulses and nature of students, yes, but do not do so without an eye to judgement, observation, consideration and guidance.
It may be a loss rather than a gain to escape from the control of another person only to find one’s conduct dictated by immediate whim and caprice; that is, at the mercy of impulses into whose formation intelligent judgment has not entered. A person whose conduct is controlled in this way has at most only the illusion of freedom. Actually forces over which he has no command direct him.
- John Dewey
Experience & Education
Though one of the shorter of the 8 chapters in this already-short tome, no. 5 packs a punch as I Dewey takes a moment to extoll the virtues of freedom – particularly freedom in schools.
Enforced quiet and acquiescence prevent pupils from disclosing their real natures. They enforce artificial uniformity. They put seeming before being. They place a premium upon preserving the outward appearance of attention, decorum, and obedience. And everyone who is acquainted with schools in which this system prevailed well knows that thoughts, imaginations, desires, and sly activities ran their own unchecked course behind this facade.
What sells this passage for me, which ultimately sums up the chapter perfectly, is Dewey’s own wink to the idea that, “We’ve all been there, right?” While the vast majority of his arguments and reasoning have been rooted in the language of philosophy up to this point, in Ch. 5, Dewey pulls back the curtain a bit to acknowledge that, in progressive education, he’s also describing the types of schools he would have liked to attend.
Freedom in learning, Dewey is writing, allows for action in learning. This, stands in stark opposition to the passivity he identifies in traditional school experiences.
And just as I was starting to wonder about this constant action and the criticism I could see it inviting, Dewey paused for a moment to speak to the importance of pausing. Learning, (true, active learning) my should be followed by moments of stillness and reflection so that students can take the information and knowledge they’ve gathered in their actions and organize it in a way that makes their experiences meaningful and opens questions for further experiences.
Freedom, yes. Freedom without organization and reflection, no.
My theme for philanthropy is the same approach I used with technology: to find a need and fill it.
- An Wang
A few years ago, before actually reading Paul Tough’s profile of Goeffrey Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone, I read a blurb on the dusk jacket from Ira Glass contending that the book had taught him more about poverty than any other text.
I had a similar experience.
I recommend Tough’s Whatever It Takes. Were I designing an ED school unit around non-traditional philanthropic interventions in urban education, I’d assign it and three other texts as well.
The first is a recent series from the Washington Post profiling this history and legacy of the Dreamers, a group of Seat Pleasant, MD students adopted by two D.C.-area businessmen who pledged to pay the students’ college tuition two decades ago.
The 3-part series and it’s ancillary coverage do well to paint a picture of the program and its place within other Dreamer initiatives across the country connected to the “I Have A Dream” Foundation.
I’d also assign The Boys of Baraka, a documentary about 12 at-risk Baltimore, MD boys sent to live and attend school in Kenya as part of an experimental program. It’s as worthy of the descriptor “compelling” as anything I’ve ever watched.
The third text is Ruth Wright Hayre and Alexis Moore’s (auto)biographical book Tell Them We Are Rising. Hayre and Moore provide a historical perspective of one African American family’s experiences with schooling across 3 generations and Hayre’s legacy when she promised college tuition to 116 sixth graders from Philadelphia. For me, the book provided a portrait of the history of Philadelphia schools few people had the time or memory to bring up. I understood where I was teaching because I understood how schools changed in Philadelphia.
While these four texts don’t provide a comprehensive list, they do provide much food for thought on the roles and possibilities for third-party stakeholders in education.
Life is filigree work. What is written clearly is not worth much, it’s the transparency that counts.
- Louis-Ferdinand Celine
When people hear “teacher” two things happen, they think of the teachers they’ve had and they think of all teachers. If they are parents, these people also think of the teachers their children have or have had in class.
Teacher pulls in images of the specifically personal and the generally vague.
Often, teachers find themselves working to elevate the prestige of the profession to the level of doctors, lawyers and other similarly regarded careers. I understand the comparison and the temptation to make it.
Teachers aren’t doctors or lawyers. They do not enjoy the same social distance as those professions.
The regard given medical and legal practitioners comes from the foreign nature of what they do. Though average Americans might know and be related to a doctor or lawyer, they do not spend the first 13-17 years of their lives in courtrooms or operating rooms. They know enough to understand the role of each profession in society, but not enough to feel as though they understand the minutia. If forced, the average person would likely feel comfortable running a classroom. They wouldn’t, I’d wager, feel the same sense of comfort if forced to defend or prosecute someone on trial or perform a surgery.
Thanks to television, they would have the jargon, but not the level of comfort appropriate to the moment.
Teaching is familiar. It is accessible through our memories.
We have spent hundreds of hours watching teachers. We’ll just do what we saw them do. What we did not see, we cannot know to do.
The familiarity of teaching keeps it from aligning with other practices similarly dedicated to the furthering and preservation of society. Teaching is visible, participatory and engrained in the lives of citizens. This works against the profession as it attempted to elevate itself.
Teaching must become wholly and completely familiar rather than working away from public access.
I received this horrendous email from change.org today about a mother who arrived at her son’s school to find him tied inside a bag meant as therapy for his autism. What the teacher did was unconscionable. It is also what the public of Mercer County and anyone who hears the story will know of Mercer schools. This will be the practice of Mercer teachers when they come up in conversation. Few will know or speak of the thousands of moments of kindness, care, professionalism, and wisdom that happened the same day and every day that follows at Mercer schools.
The gross familiarity with schooling has long been the handicap in elevating the profession. Let us then reverse that. Make all of teaching and schooling public. Make transparent the pieces children and parents did not see as students. Show the complexity of practice inherent in moving a diverse classroom of students toward learning, and esteem and regard will accrue. Respect for the work of teachers lies not in the further drawing of the curtain, but in the opening of it.
When I say I want my students to be successful, I mean I want them to blow adequacy out of the water.
- Spencer Nissly
Last Spring, SLA had the pleasure of hosting a group of pre-service teachers from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. They were part of a larger contingent visiting Philly schools and classrooms.
In my room was Spencer Nissly who will be starting his student teaching next semester. I’m eager to read about his experiences on his blog and twitter feed. He’s going to be a fantastic teacher. I know this because he loves to learn and has as many questions as possible answers.
While I’ll be offering any help and encouragement I can as Spencer gets his teaching legs under him, I want to do what I can to make sure he’s surrounded by a larger network of support as well. I asked him today if he’d mind answering a few questions as a way of introducing him to, well, anyone who might read this.
If teaching is to improve as a practice and a community, then we must support and foster one another’s growth – especially that of our newest teachers. Spencer and I are not likely to ever work with one another in the same school or district, but I education will be better because he is a teacher.
A. On the surface my life is pretty much that of a normal 21 year old male. I love movies, music and sports. I like finding cool pubs that I can talk with my friends over a beer. On a deeper level I love literature and writing. For me this is where I can express myself and connect with other people. Reading is the way I make sense of life; it shows me that I’m not alone, that my feelings are apart of being human. At my core I am my relationships. The relationships I have with my friends, family, role models, God and even myself, exemplify the values most fundamental to who I am, and who I want to be. Those values being faith, trust, community, communication and compassion. It is through my relationships that I am reminded time and time again of these values and present a platform for personal reflection.
Q. Why Teaching?
A. Education is the most important thing for any person. It provides the means for social mobility, self-realization and personal growth. Essentially, education sets people on the path for them to pursue their passions. I am passionate about English, and education allows me to translate the passion in a way that others could appreciate it. On a deeper level though, teaching gives me the opportunity to model my own core values to kids. By doing this I can help them grow by recognizing what values they hold most important to their own identity. To translate their own passions into goals and help them achieve their goals. It took me awhile to find myself; to find my passions and live up to my potential. For me teaching is a way to fulfill my passion, and help others find theirs.
A. I try to look for opportunities to learn all around me. Primarily I learn from reading; I am constantly reading all kinds of books. But I also find that I learn most from the interactions and relationships that I have. Through talking with people I trust and sharing personal experiences, I find that I am able to process learning on a meaningful level. Also by listening to their ideas and stories I am able to gain a deeper understanding that sometimes challenges my original beliefs. In engaging in this sort of exchange I’m often able to get past my ignorance and see things in a new way.
Q. What are your Goals for your Students?
A. My main goal for my students is success. Not success by achieving “adequacy” on some state standardized test. For me being “adequate,” is nothing I want for my students. When I say I want my students to be successful, I mean I want them to blow adequacy out of the water. I think this success will come in different ways for different students. For some kids that might be thinking outside the box and being creative. For other kids it might be participating in class, or just keeping their head up. I think success is something that needs to be pursued daily. Kids need to have personal goals and be constantly pursuing them, never being satisfied with where they are at. Another goal I have is to establish a legitimate classroom community. I believe this is paramount for learning to happen. My students need to feel safe and valued in my classroom. There needs to be a place for everyone’s ideas, stories, questions,passions and identities. Within this community there needs to be ample time for discussion and communication, as there is for personal reflection. I want this community to value the individual as much as the group. I think its my job to facilitate that community by providing an environment that makes it possible.
Q. What support do you need?
A. I think I would benefit most from a mentor. Someone who is willing to listen and give advice on a consistent basis. Who can relate to things I’m going through and help me find solutions to problems. Someone I can bounce ideas off of and complain to and will encourage me. I have a lot of meaningful relationships in my life and they are huge for me, but I don’t have someone who can fulfill that capacity. I have professor that I meet with but they feel like professional relationships not like a friendship.
Q. What are you reading?
A. Currently I am reading Sutree by Cormac McCarthy and The Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer. I am also going through two textbooks that I have used in the past but feel like I just scratched the surface in. One is called Bridging English and is all about strategies for teaching all aspects of English. The second is a textbook with basic ed theory: Dewey, Adler, Freire etc. - stuff that I was definitely not ready for as a sophomore. I also asked for a ton of books for Christmas so I definitely have my work cut out for me.
Q. What was the last thing you learned?
A. I was just reading in my Parker Palmer book before doing this survey about the paradoxes that are necessary in teaching. Such as how we need to value silence and speech. Meaning we need to encourage kids to share and make them feel comfortable sharing, but we also need to value silence in the classroom. We need to resist the urge to break the silence when we ask a question and no one speaks. Palmer further explains these paradoxes by showing how an analysis of your own personal teaching will show that your best and worst moments teaching can be attributed to the same personal qualities. The book is really good and it has me constantly examining myself and my goals and talking to my peers about their goals.
Q. When is the last time you changed your mind?
A. I changed my mind earlier today about a professor. He’s sort of a cocky guy and not very patient and all semester he’s just been making me feel like he doesn’t have time for us. So I’ve joined my classmates in complaining about him the entire semester. But the entire time, I knew there was more to him. He has a legitimate passion and ability to convey that passion to others. So I stayed after for a little today and talked to him abut some stuff going on in my field placement, and, again, I felt like he cut me off and rushed me. But when I got past that and listened, I realized he gave me some good advice. So I changed my mind about him and what I can learn from him if I just look past some of his downfalls and focus on his strengths. Which is something I hope people do for me and something I hope to do for each student I come in contact with.
In other words, the amount of embedded knowledge that a country has is expressed in its productive diversity, or the number of distinct products that it makes. Second, products that demand large volumes of knowledge are feasible only in the few places where all the requisite knowledge is available.
- The Atlas of Economic Complexity
Since finding it a few days ago, I’ve been obsessed with The Atlas of Economic Complexity published last month by researchers at Harvard and MIT. This is for a number of reasons (not a few of which are centered around the tremendous visualizations).
In estimating the Economic Complexity Index for each of the countries in the atlas, the authors took into consideration two main factors – diversity and ubiquity.
They examined the products of each country and determined the global ubiquity of those products as well as the diversity of products from each country.
The authors offer a few examples:
Take medical imaging devices. These machines are made in few places, but the countries that are able to make them, such as the United States or Germany, also export a large number of other products. We can infer that medical imaging devices are complex because few countries make them, and those that do tend to be diverse. By contrast, wood logs are exported by most countries, indicating that many countries have the knowledge required to export them. Now consider the case of raw diamonds.
These products are extracted in very few places, making their ubiquity quite low. But is this a reflection of the high knowledge-intensity of raw diamonds? Of course not. If raw diamonds were complex, the countries that would extract diamonds should also be able to make many other things. Since Sierra Leone and Botswana are not very diversified, this indicates that something other than large volumes of knowledge is what makes diamonds rare…
I’ve started applying similar measures to classrooms. Consider the Educational Complexity Index of the tasks many classrooms require of their students.
Take reading as an example. Many classrooms across the world ask their students to engage in reading. At some point in the last century reading was not nearly as ubiquitous task (in the U.S.) as it has become. Sesame Street, Blue and her clues, and Dora have all increased the ubiquity of reading tasks that were often the domain of schools. Still, the reading tasks exported by television were not as complex as those required by classrooms. As such, the market was altered, but not greatly.
This was so until the entrance of the Internet into the Education Union. Intellectual trade shifted greatly with the advent of the Internet and its educational exports. Not only did it flood global education markets with reading tasks, increasing the ubiquity of such tasks, it allowed for increased complexity of those tasks as well.
Such is the case of many other educational exports such as mathematics, music, history, etc. Schools, which spent more than a century enjoying great security in the relatively low ubiquity of their exports have felt tremors in the last few decades indicating an erosion of that security as other providers have made these exports more ubiquitous.
Also working against the favor of schools have been their repeated moves to pare down the diversity of educational products they bring to the market. With the exception of boutique programs, many schools that once offered a broad range of offerings from the arts to after-school extra-curricular activities have eliminated those programs. In many cases, these programs have been eliminated to offer students more intense versions of those same educational products mentioned above with a total disregard for the modern ubiquity and competitive complexity of those same products offered by other educational providers.
Still, something can be done, but it will require schools to develop a heretofore absent understanding of educational markets, taking into consideration the ubiquity and diversity of those product offered by other educational providers. One way for schools to increase their relevance, other than re-diversifying their offerings, is to design learning tasks that are more complex and bring to bear the full resources available within schools. Such tasks would call on students to put into play their understandings across several disciplines such as science, English and history. Ideally, they would also ask students to integrate their learning from other market providers as well – creating greater educational synergy.
Schools have long been the only superpower of learning in the educational economy and have thereby been resistant to take note of or take seriously the new producers of educational experiences. If schools hope to maintain this position they must shift practice and consider what can be done to inspire greater educational complexity within their walls.