Wednesday, July 20, 2011

And So It Began

Two people nearly 1,600 miles apart. One older, looking for a project to occupy spare time and perhaps to slow the decline of an aging mind. The other younger, a poet and an educator, with a dream of fixing our outdated education system. The former is yours truly, the latter is my daughter Jaime.

Despite distance and numerous moves by both of us, we’ve stayed in touch over the years with occasional emails or phone calls and the all too rare visit every few years. I learned about the dream in response to an email I sent explaining a project I had in mind.

Before retirement I’d been a PC software developer and designer for many years. After retirement I wrote a few small programs and even learned enough about web site builing to create one a few years ago using basic tools (HTML and CSS for those who care). The new project involved learning a different programming language (Python) and a how to use a web site development framework (Django).  If those things mean nothing to you, the odds that you “have a life” go way up.

In the email to Jaime I explained that I planned to learn to create web sites using up to date tools and suggested that she volunteer to be a guinea pig. Her reward would be her own web site if all went well. I received this response the next day.
“I wanted to share an idea with you that may make me a great guinea pig. I've had an idea for quite a while that I thought would make a great website/blog/book/something. Here's the basic idea: I'd call it The Dream School Project, and I'd put a call out for educators and experts around the country/world to share their idea of the perfect school. The goal would be to compile all of these ideas in one place like a database and then find people who'd be willing to implement the best ideas in the real world. I know it sounds like a lofty plan, but starting off with a website would be an easy and practical way to get the ball rolling. What do you think?”
She mentioned this 2006 TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson as one thing that had inspired the dream.

On a more personal level inspiration came from real life experience on the long, sometimes convoluted road to becoming a Master of Fine Arts. I expect that she’ll elaborate on that in articles and blog posts when the currently under construction site goes live.

In subsequent emails that week she shared links to other sites and videos she thought would generate interest and discussion on the site. One in particular caught my attention. It is a very clever animation of a lecture by Sir Ken Robinson at an RSA function. For me, the animation gave strength to the words, inspiring me to want to be part of a peaceful revolution that could really make a difference.

If you are a student, parent, educator, employer or just concerned with the future of education take a few minutes to watch the videos. If you want to participate in the search for a better way check out to learn how simply telling your story can help.

Keep an eye on this blog for the next installment of the story of Dream School Commons.