Microschooling, homeschooling, outsourcing and pop-up schools are the hot-topics among parents today during the increasing fear of the pandemic’s effects on schools. A column from the Washington Post dated 2015 (Valerie Strauss) confirms that nothing is really new under the sun, but pop-up schools might be defined as one part of the larger movement in the microschooling revolution. With pop-up schools, small groups of people can quickly form an educational network and begin teaching and learning on the fly. Why pop-up schooling is important is that it signals a trend to radically re-think schooling.
“Microschools are the result of rethinking the traditional educational model to better prepare children for the future. They are small, private institutions where students are empowered to personalize their own educations and are held accountable for their own progress. Often described as “outsourced homeschooling,” they are free from the bureaucracy, standardized tests, and mandatory curriculum that defines today’s public school system. Microschools tend to be efficiently run, and student engagement is remarkably high. Any intelligent, motivated person can establish a microschool. Motives for entering the world of personalized education vary. Some people want to escape the inefficiencies of the public system. Others want to give better opportunities to their children. Many want to make a meaningful career nurturing young minds. All of these are excellent reasons, and Microschool Revolution is here to help you along the way”Micro School Revolution
This development of designing your own learning network may well mark a shift away from organized schools and the conversation from public schools, independent schools, and charter schools to homeschooling. In the history of schooling in America we talk about how to design, reform, or improve public schools. With the arrival of charter schools, which still rely upon public funding, the envelope for using public funds to create new schools may have been reached. Homeschooling has always been an option of non-public funded schooling and certainly fulfills the need for control of the design for learning. Homeschooling often works with dedicated adults leading the learning and personalized engagement for every learner. Where it lacks is in the power of learning with others which is often achieved in cohorts of students who are the same age and go to the same school every day.
Quality in Schools
Public schools are subject to regional inspectors and curriculum leaders, and ultimately to District Superintendents for their quality inspections. PUblic schools also have their reading scores, SAT scores, and many other measures which are made public as a way for the general population to understand the differences in quality among many schools in a public school district. Independent schools exist under accreditation agencies that stipulate as to their schooling qualities. Independent schools take their accreditation very seriously, prepare for a whole year, receive inspection teams and make any corrections that those teams suggest. So there is an agreed-upon level of accountability for quality schooling across public schools, charter schools, and independent schools. Who will oversee the quality in pop-up schools, homeschooling, or outsourced schooling?
What makes microschooling a potential revolution is the pandemic effect on regular schooling. Parents were forced to receive their children back from regular schooling and this made everyone re-think how schools work, how they might work safely in a growing pandemic, and how other types of schooling, networks, pop-ups, etc. might fill the gap or even substitute for full time schooling. Since World War II there has never been a disruption to the September start of schools. This year, with that disruption boiling over, schools are stuck with the unenviable hybrid options for keeping kids safe. The arrival of a potential revolution in schooling is driven by safety concerns but also by the opportunity to radically re-think how we learn.
The Bottom Line — Long Term?
The bottom line for a revolution is not just microschooling, but all the different ways we might re-invent schooling in general. In the long term schooling is already in need of a revolutionary change with the access to information provided by the internet and the image of my 20-month old grandchild who asks for my phone, opens the kids youtube channel, searches for videos he likes, calls our cousins, or finds a new application all in the space of one minute. Who is responding to this obvious need for new ways to connect with my grandchild?? The revolution is already under way and we need to find ways to engage with the children in the way that they are already comfortable learning and in the way that obviously intrigues them the most. Any of these forms of microschooling might work in the future but will these new trends in schooling keep up with the obvious need for engagement in learning or will the students simply pass us by and look for their own custom ways to learn? If we don’t reinvent the little red schoolhouse way of doing business in schools right now, the children will be leaving the building tomorrow.