Living in beta

Have you noticed that we have shifted to a beta world? A place where it’s is perfectly fine to produce something that isn’t quite finished or polished as long as you promise to make refinements later.  I’ve noticed it a lot lately especially in games for mobile devices.  You download a game, beat the first 4 levels and bam level 5 says ” Coming Soon!” 

Google has made an art form out of being beta.  Gmail was beta for FIVE years!!  In fact most of their products come out as beta or invite only,  but they give us their word that they are constantly updating services and we trust them to do so.

So if beta is the accepted norm, why do we still insist, in education, that everything is perfect before it is rolled out?  Curriculum has to written over the course of a year, then checked by a supervisor,  then approved by a Board of Education before finally being put into practice.  Teachers fear new methods or activities unless they have been thoroughly tested and widely accepted.  Even new courses and clubs can take years in the approval process causing those who propose them to lose all interest in running them. 

This begs the usual question “why aren’t schools adjusting to the changes in the world around them?”  I am sure that at some point there was a purpose to all of the beauracracy but I don’t think those reasons are here anymore.

You know who understands this? Charter and Magnet schools. They are schools of choice; kids have to muster the courage to leave their hometown school and go to this new location where they may not know anyone.   If these choice schools do not constantly modify and make improvements to the program, their enrollment will decrease and they may have to close.  But local districts have a guaranteed enrollment so there is no motivation to change.

Maybe the key to success is to think more like Magnet schools:  Develop desirable programs that entice kids to want to come to school everyday.  And every year/month/day refine it so it is evolving and just a little bit better than it was before.

What is your school doing to stay on the forefront of education?


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