5 Ways You Can Revolutionize Education

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revolutionize education
photo credit: Brandywine Battle via photopin (license)

I’m guilty of overusing the phrase, revolutionize education. I wanted to put it in a book title some time ago and was told by a few people that it’s too “trendy” or “cliche.” So, I changed the title, and I’ve regretted it.

Still, I often tweet or share on Facebook or LinkedIn that something will revolutionize education. Sure, I may overuse the term, but I don’t apply it lightly. Typically, I’m talking about the no-grades classroom or mobile learning as being revolutionary.

Great teachers know that before you can teach them, you must love them.
As I prepare to launch the Hack Learning Series, I considered if it might revolutionize education. Then I remembered the notion that the phrase is trendy. What is revolutionary? I wondered.

Is feedback for learning revolutionary? Is a Twitter chat about a novel revolutionary? A Smart board? A Learning Management System? What makes something revolutionary in education?

After lengthy consideration, it occurred to me that it’s not things that revolutionize education. Rather, it is people, their ideas and their actions. As educators, we’re “called” to help–to impact lives. Many aspire to this honorable calling, and they all make a difference in some way.

However, only a few will reform a profession that so desperately needs to be reshaped. Only a few will be revolutionaries. You can be one of the few; here’s how.

5 Ways to Revolutionize Education

1-Fight the bureaucracy

One blog post or tweet may not end the Common Core and high stakes testing, but you can fight the bureaucratic system by talking about it to parents, administrators and even students. Explain how to improve teaching and learning, and when you’re given tools that are designed only to help you teach to the test, push them aside. Many educators do this, and so can you.

2-Make noise

To revolutionize education, we must have a big voice. While one tweet may not garner much attention, social media can make us revolutionaries. Join a Facebook group that fights for unpopular, but game-changing, causes. Join Twitter chats. Create Pinterest boards that share best practices and tools that students enjoy.

3-Love first, teach second

The few teachers who revolutionize education love first and teach second. They smile, greet kids at the door, ask about their weekends and even give them hugs. Many of our students rarely experience unconditional love. Great teachers know that before you can teach them, you must love them.

4-Take chances

Remember the great Robin Williams in the movie, Dead Poets Society? Few teachers took the kind of risks that the memorable John Keating took. The naysayer will say, “True, but his risk taking cost him his job.” If you could get students to stand on their desks in defiance of the establishment to pay tribute to your impact on their lives, would it be worth losing your job? Keating thought so, and so do today’s education revolutionaries.

5-See the forest

Because of the overwhelming politics that handcuff educators, we often fail to see the forest. We’re consumed by the trees–the standards, the abbreviations (RTTT, CCSS, IEP, TBT, etc.) and pacing charts. These “trees” get in the way of the beautiful forest–the children we serve. The revolutionaries understand that absolutely nothing is more important than our students. In the daily grind, it’s easy to be consumed by standards, curriculum, observations and parent meetings. If you want to revolutionize education, take a moment every single day to see the forest through the trees.

Who wouldn’t want to change the world? We are committed to revolutionizing education. Please help us.

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Mark Barnes is the Founder of Times 10 Publications, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series, The uNseries, and other books from some of education's most reputable teachers and leaders. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and Hack Learning. Connect with @markbarnes19 on Twitter.
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