13 January 2010

Iron Educator America

It began as a Conan-kind of joke. NBC, the self-destroying US television network (when your home studio is Rockefeller Center how can you be so bad?), suddenly has five hours of prime time to fill. Sure, I thought, I'd like to bring back Homicide, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, etc, but, I wondered out load on Twitter, couldn't they give us one of those hours to get Americans thinking about education?

I proposed Iron Educator America. We could take Tuesday night, picking up that giant Biggest Loser audience.

Yes, it's a joke, but it's still a real idea. The chance for Americans to think about really doing education differently, just as cooking shows, from The French Chef to Iron Chef America, have changed Americans' ways of thinking about food.

I proposed that we start with Iron Educators Alec Couros (@courosa) and Shelly Blake-Plock (@teachpaperless) going at it - demonstrating their exceptional skills. Dr. Couros could show us the open hybrid college course. Mr. Blake-Plock could show us a Latin class run without paper. Will Richardson (@willrich45) was tabbed by our Twitter crowdsource as "Chairman" (nimble, entertaining, and vegetarian). Few challenge "the norms" in education as effectively as Will does. Chad Ratliff (@chadratliff) got the Alton Brown host role. He is one of those exceptional synthesizers, who forces out the complex explanations behind education practice. Larry Ferlazzo (@Larryferlazzo), educational reporter extraordinaire, would take the floor reporter position.

our nimble chairman, Will Richardson

Imagine: Week after week, we'd see two master educators do things differently, excite students, pull the whole class in. We'd pick "winners" because America always wants there to be a "loser," but just like Iron Chef the point would be how great both were. We could cover a wild range of styles and every grade level. See Lisa Parisi (@lparisi) and Christine Southard co-teach with Universal Design. See Michael Wesch (@mwesch) run his digital ethnography course at Kansas State. Eventually, probably during sweeps, Derrell Bradford (@dyrnwyn) and I will go at it.

Imagine: People could see what their schools might look like, instead of simply relying on their own self-serving memories of school.

Imagine: People might actually debate educational practice at "the water cooler."

Iron Educator America is a joke, of course. But maybe it's a joke whose time has come.

- Ira Socol


Carl Anderson said...

I wonder if NBC reinvented themselves by creating and scheduling substantive content if they might find a surge in viewership. I think this sort of thing, whether the topic is education or some other important issue, is what the American people are thirsty for. Imagine, PBS level content with network level flare. At this point almost anything would be better than the Heidi Montague-Tiger Woods-Biggest Looser descent into idiocracy currently being promoted this and other networks.

Trevor Meister said...

Lots of twists you could throw into this... how about "the chairman" choosing a "topic/problem/objective/focus" (sort of like the mystery item), and have teams of students under the watchful eye of the iron teachers, each develop responses (dishes) that are show cased in some way. (mini-projects over a week or some reasonable time period)

aforgrave said...

This is a great concept! Not only from a humourous point of view, but also as a truly engaging concept in promoting increased awareness of education reform.

Just imagine, expert teachers bringing their expertise and varied toolsets/skills to a challenge-type competition! And newcomer/challenger teachers each week bringing in their perspectives.

I wonder if The Chairman would bend his rules, for one week perhaps, and allow the requisite "Bacon" episode?

Will Richardson said...

Carl, I wonder how "thirsty" people are. My sense is notsomuch. Tiger Woods is much easier to parse.

And can we quit with the bacon already? ;0)

In all seriousness, I'm wondering what a weekly, live, Ustream/Livestream show on education might look like. Hmmm...

Will Richardson said...

PS...not so sure "nimble" is an appropriate descriptor here. ;0)

Chad Ratliff said...

When do we start shooting??