Sam Chaltain

Reimagining Public Education, One Story at a Time

I know we're already six weeks into 2013, but think back to last year for a second:

What were the most talked-about education stories of 2012?

I'm guessing your list looks something like this: Common Core. The Chicago Teacher Strike. Newtown. And what worries me is that no matter what other stories you recalled—from Michelle Rhee to the dropout crisis to Race to the Top—they're all likely to fit into one of the following categories: content, conflict, or catastrophe.

This is a huge problem, because the way we see "education" is colored by two things: our own personal memories of schooling—which are remarkably similar across the past 100 years—and our national conversations about schooling, which are remarkably negative, dispiriting, and two-dimensional.



Combine these two influences, and what you get is what we have: a society that views K–12 education reform via a default set of images and memories that inhibit our collective ability to imagine something better, something new.

This should not surprise us; indeed, science has now confirmed something we always intuitively knew to be true: that the stories we tell ourselves shape how we see the world.

In 2013, then, what do we want to see in our public schools? What stories do we want to tell about them, and why? And who will get to do the telling?

What if the stories we told about schools were less about lagging dysfunction and more about healthy design?

What if the picture of teachers we painted was less about apathy and more about expertise?

What if the central message of our education coverage was not just that a learning revolution is needed, but also that it's already under way?

Now, one such effort is now officially under way via a 10-part video series that chronicles a year in the life of a remarkable public school in Boston. Every two weeks until June, a new five-minute video will be released on Each video is both a chapter in a larger story about a single school and a chance for all of us to spark a different sort of conversation about the state of teaching and learning in America.



Check out the first chapter and see what you think. If you like it, please share it widely, and add your voice to the conversation in this blog, on Facebook and Twitter, and via every other way, virtual or in person, you can think of.

Everyone knows what it feels like to go to school.

Imagine if everyone knew what it felt like to go to a great school.

This article originally appeared in Education Week.

Sam Chaltain is a Washington, D.C.-based writer and education advocate, and the author or coauthor of six books. Connect with him on his website, by e-mail, or on Twitter @samchaltain.

Share |

Blog Archive

Blog Tags