Will It Take An Apocalypse?

I am listening to (and reading) Neal Stephenson’s latest novel Seveneves, an apocalypse novel about the days leading up to a mass extinction event called ‘the white rain’ and beyond.  Without going into a review or a synopsis, I will say that it is great listen if you like lots of science and don’t mind stopping every once in a while to imagine stuff on your mind’s movie screen.  But that is not why I am writing.

I am writing because of a tiny, almost throwaway paragraph about a third of the way through, written about one of the main characters, Doob, and his wife, Amelia, an elementary school teacher.  Can you imagine what it might be like to teach during an apocalypse?



Is this what it would take to get educational reform that fits the world better? An apocalypse? Damn. Maybe so, because what I am seeing pass for reform today isn’t anything like this. There are a few alternatives out there (unschooling, Montessori, Steiner, Sudbury), but their total numbers have never been much compared to the status quo.

What will it take to get

  1. learning for its own sake
  2. no tests
  3. no ticktock curriculum
  4. the improvised and shared learning adhocracy

What will it take for us to finally be needed, to finally get the opportunity to show everyone the sterner stuff that we are made of. If not now, when?  The apocalypse?


4 Replies to “Will It Take An Apocalypse?”

  1. You carve out your free spaces, try to build peace, and pauses into the process, try to model what you see as valuable, and cultivate learner autonomy, because autonomy is, in the end, the purpose.
    That is what you can do, and sometimes, if you have time you can tell others how you do it…

    That said, adversity does tune our purpose…

  2. Interesting …. I have the book, too, and it is in my pile to be read sooner rather than later. What will it take? Maybe not the apocalypse … surely not .. but maybe the pendulum swing bound to come. Am I too hopeful? Are we hopeful ones the ones who go first when the apocalypse comes?

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