An Edlab School and/or School Kit
Hui Soo and I have been having some conversations about how Edlab might approach the task of creating a new school for a new era. This prompts the question of what exactly we mean by the concept of school in light of our focus on learning and the extension of quality learning opportunities. So, let me start with a minimal definition of school as "an environment optimized for learning." There may well be more elements to a full definition of school, and I invite others to add to this definition. In approaching the construction of a full definition, it seems important to distinguish between the kind of schools that we want to foster and the need to replace or duplicate the functions of the institutional forms that currently anchor our thinking about schools. So, for example, we might argue that the Edlab definition of school must account for all current functions of schooling, including the custodial function. Alternately, we might argue that any realistic proposal for future schooling should account for the current functions in some way, but not necessarily impose the burden of all current functions on the new concept of school. In the latter case, the current custodial function of schools would have to be handled in some way by societies, but not necessarily through the new schools we will envision.
A related issue for consideration is how Edlab might not only create a school, but also how we might create the capacity for others to create schools. If "environments optimized for learning" are a desirable part of our agenda for extending quality educational opportunities in a new era, should we attack the shortage of such schools, by reducing the burdens of creating them? Should we consider how we might create an approach or a kit for school creation?