Thursday, June 23, 2011

Testing a Newspaper/Education Analogy

Flickr CC Photo by shimray
I watch with fascination the evolution and transformation of the newspaper business.  My Grandfather Baker was once editor at the Ann Arbor News, a newspaper that has morphed into  A while ago, I while scanning Newspaper Death Watch I came across some of John Paton's remarks presentation to the INMA  Transportation of News Summit.

As I looked over his speech, I found myself using my imagination a bit and applying some of his remarks to schools and educators:

You don’t transform from broken. You don’t tinker or tweak. You start again – anew

Doing more of the same with less results in the same done worse. It is prolonging the death of a broken . . .  model rather than adapting to the realities of the present.

[The reason the industry isn’t changing faster is] fear, lack of knowledge and an aging managerial cadre that is cynically calculating how much they DON’T have to change before they get across the early retirement goal line. Stop listening to the newspaper people and start listening to the rest of the world.

We are getting out of anything that does not fall into our core competencies of content creation and the selling of our audience to advertisers. Reduce it or stop it. Outsource it or sell it.

You must supply the tools. . . .increasing training. . . supplying the tools.

You might be surprised at the quote that struck me the most. It was the one about focusing on "core competencies".   A school's core competency is learning, right?  At our school by focusing on Tony Wagner's "Seven Survival Skills", we are essentially trying to help students learn how to learn.  That means reimagining ourselves as guides, instead of experts and focusing on the learning process instead of information acquisition.  It strikes me how many resources and activities (both curricular and extra-curricular) at a brick and mortar school are not related to the core competency of learning.  While the public is not likely to cast us aside as casually as the habit of subscribing to a daily newspaper, the similarities are somewhat ominous.

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