Meet Alex. Alex is a 'high school aged kid' who lives in Maine. Besides having the same statehood in common, I was also struck by the following question he asked recently in the "Regenerate Our Culture" online magazine:
What application does school have beyond school?
Ah. A kid after my own heart.
The difference between his question and the million and one others just like it from frustrated adolescents spinning on the compulsorary education hamster wheel?
- One: Alex is homeschooled.
- Two: Alex's answer may surprise you; go to the bottom of his article/post to get his insight.
- Four: Alex has a network and is part of something bigger that could only have happened in the blogosphere...but has tremendous value for in-school experiences, as well. The magazine I refered to earlier is a magazine created to aggregate the best of teen voices in the blogosphere, and not some 'zine roughed out at Kinkos after some bender of an alt-punk music fest with cut-n-paste methadologies. No, an online magazine that demonstrates to me that if students like Alex -- the homeschooled 'kid' from Maine who is asking why school even matters -- wanted to have the pick of their colleges one day soon, I'd be hardpressed to find an admissions officer who could prove to me that such voices weren't worth a significant listen, if not an aggressive attempt to win any of them to join their school.
Seriously, this is impressive. A wonderful hint-hint-hint for teachers IN schools, too. He's just one voice, but such a platform allowed me to discover him...and more importantly, to respect his voice. A kid's measured and thoughtful voice. And not in the 'because he's my student' sort of way. His writing has a particular homeschool/philosophical bent, and he's still at the beginning of a "life examined", but all in all I find his writing insightful, his resources to be diverse -- running from the Bible to the 'Great Books' to a range of hip Web2.0 forums/blogs/tools.
But his voice combined with the voices of the other teen bloggers, added to a pretty clean and design-savvy online magazine that is well edited/organized, and you begin to see momentum growing. Each kid being showcased. A network of kids growing more powerful. Wonderful. And imagine if your local English class took the same approach. Just imagine...
Back to the question at hand, to give you a taste of his writing (but just a taste):
There is a degree of inherent importance, of course; being educated through highschool and preferably college holds a great deal of significance in our society. Regardless of how much is actually learned during these experiences, the ability to say that one has graduated still has clout.
Many people, however, fail to get excited about giving up years of their time just to be able to say something. How are the things we’re learning in school relevant to our lives? The basic subjects make enough sense: reading to share in the thoughts of others, writing to share your own and arithmetic allows you to keep track of the money you spent on the first, and perhaps attempted to make on the second. These are obvious, but we all get to a point where we’re required to read books that cure insomnia, write outrageously long papers and learn math that only Einstein could apply to the real world.
So, to all the English teachers out there, to all the college admissions officers out there, to all the adults who worry about kids being 'on-line' all day, to all the kids who struggle to juggle lacrosse and AP Science and trying to be prom queen...here is a kid who has begun to learn the most important 3 things possible for a young person on the verge of entering the 'real world':
Find thy Passion.
Join thy Network.
Market thy Self. Market thy Network.
And don't look back.
Alex asked at the beginning what application school has beyond school. And while he offers a pretty traditional answer, the real question I hope he'll ask one day soon (to which I'll look forward to reading) is:
What application does collaboration like this have beyond the way we imagine schooling today?