I think the best path we as a country can take to navigate between the extremes (rapid change, many students left behind; gradual change with the majority of students insufficiently-served for the foreseeable future) is to shorten the time frame of change by providing as many high quality educational alternatives as possible and creating policies that encourage people to make full use of these alternatives, while doing what we can to improve the experience of the children who, for now, remain in the traditional schools. So, for example, museums can:
- Provide more and better support to homeschooled and unschooled learners;
- Develop robust, high-quality after school and summer programs;
- Create their own schools structured around experiential, immersive, project-based learning;
- Designate staff “learning agents” to help K-12 learners, and their parents, create personalized learning plans around museum resources.
- Identify and partner with innovative schools founded on the same principles of self-directed, passion-based learning that informs our design. (For example, the new Math Academy opening in San Francisco this Fall.)
- Document what museums do now, both to identify educational innovations on which to build, and to establish a baseline measure of museums’ current educational impact. (This might include, for example, case studies as well as quantitative research to determine how many hours of teacher training museums provide, how many home-schooled learners use us as primary resources, how many students are educated in museum-based schools.)
- Create inspiring, ambitious but achievable goals for the educational reach of museums, as individual organizations and as a field.
- Advocate for policy and funding that enable museums to participate as fully as possible in the educational mainstream, and support innovation and experimentation
- Encourage funders to support the building the infrastructure (of all sorts: digital, transportation-related, physical facilities) that museums will need if we are to play a significant role in education