Remixing Schools

I had an idea tonight for a project that would be cool if we could implement it. The basic idea is, we submit complete information about a bunch of schools which are known to work, and then we break those schools down into their component pieces, such as assessment policy or their science curriculum. We then provide an interface so that people can remix these schools.

I think of schools as being driven largely by policy. Yes, individual teachers make a difference but those teachers are generally hired to a school because of a policy about how teachers are hired. By and large the decisions about how schools are run, and how successful they are (with the given population of students they have) are made at the policy level, rather than the day to day action of the teachers. Think of the cumulative action of the teachers as making a difference, but that cumulative action is driven by your assessment policy, your classroom discipline policy, and so on. Even a purely democratic schools, in which every major decision is decided by the democratic process has an over-arching policy, they’ve chosen to be a democratic school.

So imagine we have all of the policies for a bunch of successful schools, and we were able to remix them. We would be able to to pick and choose between the policies (where they are compatible) and develop our own school models. Schools might be able to re-examine their own policies more critically and make some changes to improve their own model. The very nature of what makes an individual school successful would become shared public knowledge.

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