Monday, December 31, 2007

Change “Music” to “Schools” and…

Education for DummiesIt’s no secret that the music industry has played hardball with users of filesharing networks. Leaders in the field worked hard to ignore the fact that those who swapped files via BitTorrent were also the greatest purchasers of music. Now it seems that Big Music may be crumbing just like the Berlin Wall. It seems Edgar Bronfman, head of Warner Music has signaled a change of heart:

“We used to fool ourselves,’ he said. “We used to think our content was perfect just exactly as it was. We expected our business would remain blissfully unaffected even as the world of interactivity, constant connection and file sharing was exploding. And of course we were wrong. How were we wrong? By standing still or moving at a glacial pace, we inadvertently went to war with consumers by denying them what they wanted and could otherwise find and as a result of course, consumers won.”

Although I work with many creative and innovative teachers, capital E Education doesn’t seem to get that the last couple years has witnessed a transformation: schools are now islands of resource impoverishment whereas homes, Starbucks and McDonald’s - Education for Dummieswith their broadband WiFi access - can be a better place for the motivated learner to get on with what they love. A great quotation from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi points toward a better response for Education than fighting to maintain a crumbling status quo:

The claim is that if educators invested a fraction of the energy on stimulating the students' enjoyment of learning that they now spend in trying to transmit information we could achieve much better results. Literacy, numeracy, or indeed any other subject matter will be mastered more readily and more thoroughly when the student becomes able to derive intrinsic rewards from learning. At present, however, lamentably few students would recognize the idea that learning can be enjoyable.
Thus, the abiding truth: although not everyone loves school, the joy of learning is universal. Now is a good time to lead with this strength.