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If you’re a regular reader of this blog, I apologize!  Once I had finished articulating the pain of 20th-century, factory-model learning materials and schools, I suddenly found myself in that busy time of year called October … and then, as it often happens when you’re too busy, I got sick.

But in between being sick and busy, I had bits of time to think about the solution to the core problem that schools and textbooks share.  In a nutshell, in the 400 characters or less allowed on Edstartup’s “Share the Pain” form, I realized the problem is that

Both schools and textbooks function ‘as designed,’ but the design is obsolete, and so is the underlying paradigm (knowledge is scarce and must be transmitted from expert to novice). To eliminate the pain that teachers, parents, and students feel, we must redesign learning spaces and learning materials around a paradigm of abundance and co-creation.

And I made this graphic to illustrate the pain:

21st-century learners – all of us – live and learn in the world on the right, the colorful, deeply interconnected one where everything is shared – and where almost everything is hyperlinked.  But schools and textbooks are still stuck in the world on the left, a world of disconnected individual boxes (textbooks, classrooms, desks, schools) where you’re expected to

  • sit down
  • shut up
  • do “the work” assigned by “the teacher”
  • rinse and repeat for 13 years
  • emerge, somehow, as a well-prepared citizen and worker for … the world on the right??

No wonder there’s so much pain!

But as I was reminded this summer, “the solution is inherent in the problem.”  Schools and textbooks, functioning as designed, cause pain because they’re built on an outdated paradigm.  Solution?  Build new learning spaces and learning materials around a different paradigm.  Replace the factory with a different paradigm, then redesign learning spaces and materials around that.

think the new paradigm is the joyful learning community … and the more people I talk with, the more persuaded I am.

But before I explain why, I need to define what a joyful learning community is … and do so more succinctly than I did over here in 2011.  I also need to deal with the critical “solution test” questions:

  1. What does your solution do?
  2. How does it work?
  3. Why would someone want it?
  4. If helpful, draw a picture of your solution.

So expect a series of posts about joyful learning communities as the solution for the pain of outdated factory paradigms, functioning as designed.

What do you think of the succinct pain problem statement?  And what do you think of the solution?  What am I missing here, and how should I answer those 4 important questions “in a page or less?”