So, yesterday I tried to articulate what I think might be a new story to tell around education, one that acknowledges that schools will soon no longer be seen as the only path to learning though they can and should still play a crucial role in our children’s learning lives despite the “unbundling” of what schools have pretty much held a monopoly on for 125 years. Obviously, it’s a story that has yet to gain any traction in terms of the national or local conversations going on about schools. Everyone is yelling and screaming about doing what we currently do better, not fundamentally changing what we do. Current “reformists” don’t want real change because it would upset the business of schools in some fundamental ways. And those like Jeb Bush who are now engaging in reform talk around access to technology no doubt are driven by the $$$ that many businesses are seeing right now in the “personalized learning” space. (If you haven’t guessed, it’s going to be huge.)

But for me, the question comes back to how do we expand the conversation about the new roles that schools will play in this interaction. And it seems to me that one place to start is with parents. If we can get parents to advocate for change, then maybe we can move the needle a bit, so to speak. And if we can get lots of parents and give them a different story from the one that most are telling, then, who knows?

That’s what my Educon conversation is about on Sunday. Actually it’s a question:

Can we leverage the networks that we currently have to bring 10,000 (or more) parents together across the country next fall to hold a real conversation about education and change?

Obviously, that’s a lofty goal:

  • Are there 500 people/schools out there in the network who could get 20 people to a “meet up”? (Or some other combination?)
  • Can we agree on a coherent message?
  • Can we market that message?
  • Can we create a compelling presentation that will spark this conversation?
  • Can we build a movement around it?
  • Can we create a core group of organizers to take this idea and run with it?

I may be nuts, but I’d like to find out. I’m thinking it’s time we see whether or not all of these “weak ties” can coalesce into something that actually can make some noise. In some ways, I offer this as a challenge or a test to see if all of this Web and network and community goodness can lead to something tangible at scale. What do you think?

Anyway, since my session is the last block of the conference and I’m thinking there may only be a few interested souls that will stick around for it, maybe we can get the conversation going online first. I’ve started a sort of “Brain Dump” Google Doc for anyone who wants to put some thinking to this idea. Also, I’ve created a form for those who might like to tentatively sign up to host such an event.

If you’re at all into this idea, spread the word. Use #pbtsn11 as the tag for Tweets and posts.

On many levels, I think this could be a pretty interesting effort for our communities to create some collective action around change. Or not. Fun to dream at any rate…