The one thing I have always wished about school – that it was a marketplace of ideas/learning where all in the community could come and go as they please. A doors open, windows blowing fresh air through policy.

This is far from how it works. Going to school is mandatory for students, a criminal sentence. Many or most parents have to book an appointment to go to their child’s classroom. Invite guests into your classroom? Be prepared for reams of paperwork and forms to be approved. Grandparents in the classroom? Forget it – what if they had a heart attach, god forbid we have children learn that people die!

I’m not joking. We need to do everything in our power to get our schools to be OPEN. To use the resources, especially the human resources of our communities. Teaching is not just the domain of the teacher – this is where we have to begin.  The biggest factor dragging down our student achievement is the system itself, how it is set up. Ira Socol writes eloquently about this, “System Effect”.

Sugata Mitra for English language teaching has his “granny cloud” – grandmothers in the UK teaching Indian students via skype. And here’s an innovative practice in the states – “Foster Grandparents”. The elderly going to classrooms, rolling up their sleeves and helping out. Wonderful! Now let’s get working on the other stuff to make our classrooms a marketplace of learning and ideas…. there are a lot of customers out there.

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