Reimagining Education – Hacker style

Logan LaPlante has it all right. I watched the above Ted Talk this evening in complete awe of how composed and well-spoken this thirteen year old is. Not only are his ideas compelling, but they are working as evidenced by his talk.

Too often I have spent time in Twitter Chats pontificating about the necessary changes that education must employ if we want to correct the many woes it inflicts upon young learners. Tradition robs youngsters of creativity and beats them into submission to prepare them for a world that doesn’t respond to the old model.

It’s time for a change – not just one of words and theory, but one of action. We don’t have to passively accept the systems as they are – as a matter of fact, a simple shift (as Logan suggests) of considering learning as a habit of mind and not a system, allows people to do it differently.

Imagine learning that is propelled by interest and experience with the end goal of happiness and not just a job. Careers will come no matter what, but why not prepare students for live happy lives.

The talk opens with Logan discussing the question that he hates most “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We’re all guilty of asking kids this question and unimaginatively expecting answers that are limiting and bland. He suggests that the answer should be happy.

Many of the suggestions made in the talk can and should be happening, not just in home schooled situations, but in “traditional” institutions of learning.

Here’s what I propose:

  • Let’s do away with the bell systems in schools – kids are dogs and shouldn’t be trained to move when a bell tells them it’s time
  • Let’s do away with age based “grades” and move to mastery levels
  • Let’s do away with content/discipline specific classes that fail to connect with other skills and disciplines – education and life aren’t compartmentalized
  • Let’s do away with grades that judge student learning based on obedience and compliance
  • Let’s do away with testing and summative, data driven cultures that don’t consider important human stuff that sets our kids apart
  • Let’s do away with making decisions for kids, to teach them to critically think but actually do the opposite
  • Let’s start asking kids what they are interested in learning
  • Let’s start listening to kids when they answer
  • Let’s start developing partnerships that students take an active role in developing curriculum that works for their experiences and can teach others with
  • Let’s start valuing learning over passing criteria or crediting or grades
  • Let’s encourage kids to take risks and fail and try again
  • Let’s foster spaces that encourage creativity and innovation
  • Let’s empower kids to help each other
  • Let’s step away from the front of the room. Get rid of the blackboards. Get rids of the desks and create spaces that take learning and playing and combine the two
  • Let’s embrace technology because it’s where kids live – it’s not a distraction – it’s a tool that works
  • Let’s stop assigning work, just to assign it – get rid of meaningless homework
  • Let’s get kids out of traditional classrooms and into learning spaces in and out of schools

Honestly, I could go on and on because I’m all fired up right now. It’s time for some of us to actually get together and make it happen. We need to start a school and just do it.

Who’s in? It’s time… the bell isn’t ringing but the kids are clamoring for the change. They don’t realize it yet, but school should be fun and compelling and engaging… NOT something they seek to avoid because it’s useless.

Are you ready to get on board? What’s your contribution?


Tagged: , , ,


Actually it was John Lennon who when asked that age old question at age 5  responded with 'Happy' When the teachers said that he hadn't understood the question, he responded by saying they hadnn't understood life! This was in 1945! Plus ca change . . . 


@teacherwhispers  I remember that interview. I love John Lennon. One of my tattoos is "Imagine" - I really see his message of one of great one - one we must aspire to. Happiness seems so easy through his eyes or through Logan's. Adults need to work to not let life complicate that simple life goal. 

Thanks for reading and responding :)


@mssackstein @teacherwhispers Life is a lot more complicated than we think but a lot simpler than we imagine!  And it's the mindless bureaucracy of schools that is killing the spark in most teachers . . .


@teacherwhispers @mssackstein  No arguments there. It's the love and joy of what we do in our spaces and with our colleagues though that are keeping us in the classroom. Sometimes simple is the hardest thing to comprehend


  1. […] Lecture style learning doesn’t work for many millennial learners who are accustomed to innovation and creativity. They’re makers and explorers who like to figure out how things work or gamify their learning. […]

  2. […] day children sit before us, some not so eagerly, waiting to learn. We ask them to join us on a journey, to trust us and take risks that we claim will benefit them […]

  3. […] learn at my own pace through reading, Twitter chats, YouTube videos, watch […]

  4. […] Classrooms today don’t and shouldn’t look like they did when we were students […]

  5. […] hate doing report card grades, but if there was ever a time to put a grade on something, it is at the end of a full year of […]

  6. […] of what is really important – the learning.  A number on its own is meaningless, so if we can shift the line of questioning away from, “What did you get?” to “What did you learn?” or “How have […]

  7. […] Imagine learning that is propelled by interest and experience with the end goal of happiness and not just a job. Careers will come no matter what, but why not prepare students for live happy lives.  […]