I’m reading Clay Shirky’s new book, Here Comes Everybody. In it, he explores how technology is changing human interactions—and he shares an interesting example:
In 2007, several conservative parishes of the Episcopal Church in Virginia decided to split from the American branch of their church after an openly gay bishop was ordained. The parishes chose to align themselves with the NIGERIAN branch of the Episcopal Church—whose views (they believed) better matched their own.
Shirky argues that this shows a shift in our thinking about how we organize ourselves. Typically, humans have used geography as the primary factor when determining how to join together with others. In the church example, we’ve always aligned ourselves with others who were physically close to us AND shared our views.
Technology has made it possible to align with anyone, however. While it would be nice for the parishes in Virgina to find others with like minded beliefs who were also nearby, they were able to place a priority on like minded beliefs instead of geography when connecting.
So my question is this: Will we eventually see similar changes in the ways that people think about schools?
Think about it: Right now, people send their students to schools based on geography. You go to the building that is closest to you, whether you are satisfied with that building or not.
Is it possible that technology may change all of that and allow families to select schools based on design and ideas that best represent their personal preferences and values INSTEAD of choosing schools based on physical location?
And if so, how will that change our work as teachers? What impact will it have on us as taxpayers? On our nation’s guarantee of providing a sound basic education for all children? On any efforts at all to provide a uniform curriculum?