Will Richardson is very well known in the education world, partly because he has been active for a very long time, partly because of his well-known Tedx Talks and presentations, and partly because he’s still knocking it out of the park with his Change School, a robust 8-week online experience for educational leaders who are serious about changing school.
Richardson is one of those education thought leaders that doesn’t pull any punches. When you talk to him, he exhibits the kind of frankness that gives people permission to be frank as well, to voice the truths that may only be whispered in back hallways.
For example, when I discussed parental engagement with Will, he had the courage to say that many school leaders don’t want a high level of parent engagement in school, that they are more concerned with teaching than learning, and, to some degree, more parent engagement would just get in the way.
That is antithetical to every discussion I have ever heard on parent engagement, but sadly, is more true than not. The fact that Will would state it matter-of-factly gives you a lot of insight. Will has the unique ability to see things the way they are, and at the same time see things the way they can be. He is serious about change, and the participants in his Change School are serious as well.
What is Change School?
According to Richardson, “Change School is the result of our attempt to bring together the educational leaders from around the world into a community where we can dive into a lot of those topics, a lot of that ‘how’ stuff. And we stress all the time that it’s really not a course. We’re building a coaching and community experience that is unique in the education space.”
Richardson thinks that there’s a real desire on the part of leaders and others in education to finally come to terms with the gaps and the ironies that we have in classrooms because the reality is that a lot of the stuff we do in school really doesn’t comport to what we believe about learning. A lot of people recognize that, and now that gap has just become more acute given the student’s ability now to learn just about anything you want anywhere you are with whomever you find online.
I mean, this is not the world that schools were built for. Schools were built for a world of scarcity and inaccessibility; and, now, all of a sudden, we’re in this world of abundance and instant accessibility to information and people are realizing, “Yes, things have changed…we have to really figure this out now.”
Change at the scale we’re talking about isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes a long time. It’s complex. It’s not easy. There isn’t one kind of cookie cutter approach or standard recipe to do it.
According to Richardson, “we at Change School are just really thrilled that so many people are willing to dive into that with us and then we can watch them and coach them and help them as they go through that process in their own districts.”