Planning the Revolution (Education Reform)

By Worzel, Richard | Teach, January/February 1997 | Go to article overview

Planning the Revolution (Education Reform)

Worzel, Richard, Teach


In my last column, I indicated that we need to change our underlying approach to education from one of mass production to one of mass customization. This means that every child's education would be unique, custom - tailored to their needs and abilities. What I didn't say was how we produce such a radical change.

The initial step is the toughest: we have to accept that we can't change the way the education system functions and maintain our current system at the same time. For those who are willing to take my proposal seriously, I offer the following prescription.

First, find a school board that is willing to support a trial project. Next, find a high school principal who is willing to invent a better system for her students, and to take some risks to make a name for herself. She should then spend a great deal of time studying what's happening in the commercial training industry. Educators and commercial trainers don't like each other, and never talk to each other for fear of contamination. But commercial trainers are doing what you will need to succeed: developing computer - based education systems that are cost - effective, flexible, and firmly rooted in solid pedagogical practice. Once you know what they know, and have some ideas of what it might cost to hire the best in that business, you're ready to go back to your school. This mass customization concept may work best within the charter school model, where theoretically, you begin with a clean slate.

You are about to change over from paper - based education tools to computer - based education tools, and change the structure from one where the curriculum drives the student to one where the student drives the curriculum. Since what you are doing is experimental and may not suit every student, have them apply to the student - driven stream, leaving the rest to stay in the traditional stream.

Within the new system, you're going to have to commit a complete change over. You won't have the budget to finance both paper - based tools and computer based tools, and you won't have time enough in a school year for both student - driven and curriculum - driven approaches in a single stream.

Now consider how this will change the curriculum. As a start, let's model our approach on a liberal arts program at the university level. There are certain requirements a student must fill to graduate, including subjects in a wide range of areas, and concentration requirements in her major. Now let's transpose this to a primary and secondary school curriculum.

There would be competency requirements for each student to move beyond a given age category. These categories might be grouped by physiological and psychological developmental stages, such as ages 11 through 13, 14 through 16, and 17 through 19. Competency could be demonstrated through projects rather than by exam or assignment, and teachers could use this to interest students in skills they might otherwise find boring. Hence, if a student wants to create a Web site, the teacher might point out that being able to communicate effectively is more likely to help him achieve his goals. She might guide him into instruction that allows him to learn these skills -- and the end result would be a clear demonstration of what he has learned.

This also illustrates the role of the teacher. She becomes both a guide and an opportunist. In her role as a guide, she helps the student find resources, and points out skills and abilities that he or she will need to achieve their desired goals. As an opportunist, she will look for situations where students can be nudged into broadening their skills beyond those they choose for themselves. Teachers will become tutors and leaders more than lecturers and rule keepers.

Redefining the curriculum and the role of the teacher are enormous projects in themselves -- but there is no point in just creating systems that replicate the mass production model using expensive equipment. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Planning the Revolution (Education Reform)


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.