It is the birthplace of the citizen ideal.
It’s where we learn to live a life of selfless service on behalf of the community; it’s where we find the path to virtue, subordinating innate self-interest as individuals to the interests of the community, the good of the whole. And where, on graduation day, the highest possible title in a free society is conferred upon us: citizen.
-from the SchoolisNotSchool Manifesto
Every now and again, and old(ish) article pops up in the newsfeeds from which we pull our resources and reflections on education. Today, an April post from Good rolled by titled, “What if Schools Weren’t Schools Anymore?” The article considers a project run in February by Insight Labs that ultimately developed the manifesto quoted above.
If the idea of school as a place where we ”learn to live a life of selfless service on behalf of the community; it’s where we find the path to virtue, subordinating innate self-interest as individuals to the interests of the community, the good of the whole.” seems too idealistic, Good asks us to consider the current alternative.
“The lack of purpose—think of all the times you asked a teacher “what am I ever going to use this for?”—gives students little incentive to not drop out. If students do graduate high school and college, too many don’t know what they want to do with the rest of their lives because they’ve never had to apply what they’re learning to the challenges facing the world. That could all change if students, parents, educators, businesses, government institutions, and nonprofit organizations all came together to make school a place that ultimately serves as a community-wide resource.”
Schools now purport to be ““all about the kids”,” asserts the Manifesto, ” who are still learning old lessons the old way. It’s still school, that prepares young, choice-conscious consumers for a Market, not citizens for a Society; it shows students the old path to an old idea of prosperity, only now under energy saving bulbs in a cost-efficient, climate-controlled building. ”
It’s a problem, contends the creators of this vision of learning, that won’t go away until we stop thinking of school as school, and ” we start designing for school as a community-wide resource; it won’t stop until we start creating school as a dynamic social engine for entire towns and cities that drive every citizen toward a higher, greater good: the public interest. ”
Insight Labs wants to keep the conversation going at http://schoolisnotschool.org/ .
“The logic that we must solve for, “they say, “is neither fiscal nor physical, but moral: No schools without citizens. No citizens without schools.”
What do you think?