How to De-Standardize Your Classroom

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Dawn Casey-Rowe on Brilliant or Insane

Dawn Casey-Rowe wants to de-standardize education. But is this problem really hackable? The author of Don’t Sniff the Glue: A Teacher’s Misadventures in Education Reform thinks so.

In Episode 52 of the Hack Learning Podcast, Casey-Rowe explains how her business experience helped her learn how to de-standardize her classroom and meet individual learners on their favorite “playgrounds”.

I loved school, and I want to prove that it doesn’t have to be a time of suffering for you.

A marvelous storyteller, Casey-Rowe compares students to customers, while defining the standard classroom’s problem, offering an overall hack, and providing several right-now solutions for educators.

The Problem

Educators are handcuffed by standardization, and many feel they can’t engage learners, who are not standardized at all.

I would be teaching the same six classes straight in a row, like replays of a Shakespearean theater, but in front of me was a different audience every 45 minutes.

Most teachers are conditioned to teach standards from the same work book or worksheet that other educators use, which Casey-Rowe says isn’t reasonable because “The world is a different place.”

The Hack

Use your subject area as a vehicle to connect learners to other things. Casey-Rowe, who has owned numerous businesses outside of her work as a teacher, suggests that teachers discover where individual student’s interests lie, and use this knowledge to engage them with your subject.

You have to be able to read that “customer” and give them 100 percent of your best experience… I need to say, “What do you feel strongly about, and how are you planning to use this in your life?”

What You Can Do Tomorrow

Check out Casey-Rowe’s right-now strategies for de-standardizing your classroom at

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Mark Barnes is the Founder of Times 10 Publications, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series -- books and other series that provide right-now solutions for teachers and learners. Mark is the author or publisher of dozens of books, including Bestseller Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and Hack Learning. Join more than 150,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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