PopTech Education Lectures Offer Charter School Templates

Posted by Nikhil Swaminathan

Dennis-Littky-PopTechLast week, PopTech posted a few education-related videos from its conference held in October.In one, Steve Barr, founder of Green Dot Public Schools (and subject of a recent New Yorker profile), laments the degradation of the Bay Area public school he attended-as did Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak-from one of the best in the country to one of the worst. He says he's tired of building charter schools; he wants to change the system. His big question for turning around slumping schools: What if private schools were illegal, and public schools more closely resembled today's private ones?In another video, Dennis Littky (pictured above) offers a vision for schooling that's unbound by across-the-board guidelines. His Big Picture Learning design tailors an exam-free curriculum to each student so that kids stay engaged in learning. Among the stories he tells is one about a Cambodian student obsessed with death, who is allowed to explore her fascination. In the process of getting her education and matriculating to college, the student was able to exorcise demons related to the death of her family while they immigrated to America.Both offer visions of what bureaucracy-free, non-standardized schools could do to make education more effective, interactive, and, most importantly, fun. They also offer examples for how charter schools ought to be.