The Case for Agile Schools

The Opportunity of Information Age Schooling

The opportunity of education reform is the opportunity to choose a different form of schooling, one more helpful to our children, more appropriate to our time, and more suited to our society's needs.

True reform honors the word “reform” in its most obvious meaning: changing something from one form into another. Our challenge is changing school from its current Industrial Age "factory model" form into a more appropriate form the Information Age (perhaps best thought of as the "network model").

Our current approaches to educational change—testing, standards, charters, vouchers, and merit pay—are doing more to lock down the past than they are to unlock the future.

No matter how many tests we give, or with what sophistication we create them; no matter how thoroughly we standardize the curriculum, or with what volume we create new materials to teach it; the essential form of school will remain unchanged. We’ve created curricula, tests, and strongly aligned materials in the past; repeating this process will not help us move successfully into the future.

Technology products and technology-enabled learning contexts may improve the way kids consume traditional Industrial Age curriculum. But we believe it is technology process—like Agile—not product that what will move our schools forward into the Information Age.

And while online learning, blended learning, and computer-assisted learning contexts will also help kids consume traditional curriculum, we believe that technology culture not technology context will prove to be the basis of high-quality schooling.

The Case for Agile Schools

The Case for Agile Schools is a document that describes in detail the fundamental problems inherent in the 19th century Industrial Age factory model of education we use today, and describes how Agile represents a likely solution.

The case is made in several parts:

  • Part 2: The Only Thing Constant is Change. We discuss the rapid pace of global change, the difficulty of predicting the future, and the need to teach children how to deal with uncertainty. We also show that the solution to such preparation comes from other societal sectors that successfully wrestled with this same challenge 20-30 years ago.
  • Part 3: Déja Vu All Over Again. We discuss the development of the Agile method and show how it addressed for businesses many of the same challenges we are experiencing in school today.
  • Part 4: Agile Education. We discuss how Agile has progressed beyond its use in the software industry over the past ten years to become a widely used way of getting big things done under uncertain conditions. We also introduce the Agile Manifesto and its education adaption the Agile Schools Manifesto.


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Steve Peha

People of all kinds are excited about this idea—educators, Agilists, parents, even some kids. But just about everyone asks three questions: (1) Who's doing this? (2) What does it look like? and (3) Does it work? Right now, we don't have definitive answers to these questions. That's what this community is for.

Partial answers exist in existing teaching practice. Most of the best teaching ideas we know about are consistent with Agile's philosophy, principles, and patterns. It's also easy to see, even in just the four bulleted lines of the Manifesto, why our schools don't work, and why our current approach to reform isn't moving us toward an Information Age education system.

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