Monday, April 27, 2009

"Hacking" Education

Fred Wilson at Union Square has been writing about "Hacking Education" for a few months, under the theme that maybe the same guidelines that drive VCs and Entrepreneurs could be useful to advance the struggling education system in the US. Various events and discussions have spawned from these posts. One from today caught my eye, as Fred looked at turning students into teachers, which is a similar concept to one that I discussed with my team earlier in the year. I haven't been as successful as I hoped in steering people away from a "grades first" approach to a "learning & exploring" first approach, but I am making some progress. Some of the late night weekend discussions have been very interesting lately, especially with the economy forcing people to thinking creatively about their next hustle.

The things that jumped out my about this concept were:
  • How much it sounded like my G&T program in 4th and 5th grade, which is probably the most fun I ever had in school and the time when I truly learned how to think the point that my group finished 9th in the world in the Olympics of the Mind competition (Michigan State Champions). To Bob Jedd, I am truly grateful for that experience.
  • The kids in the example that excelled were the ones that didn't require structure and guidance in their life. Seems to sum up entrepreneurs vs. non-entrepreneurs pretty well.
  • It almost completely aligned to the discuss we had in our ITMgm't class last weekend as we discussed Disruptive Technologies. The majority of the class, trained in traditional MBA skills, quickly shifted from disruptive thinking to sustaining thinking without any prompting. Find the structure. Find the well-known.
  • When I brought up the idea that "freemium" might be a starting point for MBA programs of the future (ie. the courses are free and the revenues for the school evolve from there), it drew the expected "are you from Mars?" look from Deans of the Winston-Salem and Charlotte programs.
I'll be following Fred's work in this area closely, both because of my secondary interest in teaching as well as my primary goals of providing educational opportunities for my two daughters.
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