Here is an idea that cropped up four times in the last three days, an idea I have spread since early in my EdJourney last fall, and it deserves a separate shout-out of its own. I truly believe it may represent the least expensive way to dramatically embrace the core of what we call educational innovation.
Cover the walls with idea paint. It is paint that turns walls into writeable surfaces, just like a white board.
Technology has made knowledge nearly universally accessible, disrupting the foundation of education that has existed since people first gathered around fires thousands of years ago. The three-way relationship of student, teacher, and knowledge is broken, and it is not going to be repaired. Why does a teacher ask students to raise their hands to answer a question, when all of the students could be answering the question at the same time, then seeing what others are saying, and then grouping up to discuss or sort, or work out differences, or help, or learn from each other. Why are we stuck in those darn seats? Why are walls still covered with maps and pictures and posters, when we have access to all of that on our computers? Why do we look at old stuff (consume) instead of create and share new stuff?
On my trip I saw students working long division problems together on a wall, the problem cascading from as high as they could reach down to the floor. I saw students tracing each others’ bodies on the wall and then filling in the organs. I saw a large dragon arcing across a chemistry lab, seeming to chomp on a beaker. I saw the afterglow of 2nd graders designing work space on a wall. I EVEN saw a few adult spaces where, like in the idea-crucibles of Silicon Valley, thoughts only have real value when others can see and mess with them.
What would it cost? A few hundred backs a classroom? I shared the idea with students wherever I went: would you rather work at your desk or get up and move, roam, share, kibitz, teach, draw, imagine? Not hard to imagine the responses.
So chose a classroom or three, slap on some idea paint, see what happens. And share the results with all of us!