Open Thinkering


Ten big questions for education

Hello! It’s been a good few years since I published this post. Sadly, the wiki that I linked to at the end of the post no longer exists, but the ten questions remain pertinent.

You may find some of these things useful, too:

  1. 5 ways to make ‘textbook lessons’ more interesting
  2. 10 things I learned from ‘Why Don’t Students Like School?’
  3. 5 things School of Rock can teach us about real education

Oh, and if you’re reading this as preparation for, or part of, your teacher training, good luck!

I need your input and help. It’s for a good cause. I’m a firm believer that educational innovation is a bottom-up process. Could you help me (and others) prove that?

I’ll try and keep this as brief as possible if you promise to do the background reading and try to contribute in some way. :-p


EduCon 2.0 is both a conversation and a conference.
And it is not a technology conference. It is an education conference. It is, hopefully, an innovation conference where we can come together, both in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will be an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas — from the very practical to the big dreams.

This year’s was 29th-31st of January at the Science Leadership Academy, Philadelphia, USA (which is why I wasn’t there).

Background Reading

Will Richardson blogged about what happened at Educon and the next steps required to turn conversations into action:


Will crowdsourced 10 questions that educators need to answer effectively:

  1. What is the purpose of school?
  2. What is the changing role of the teacher, and how do we support that new role?
  3. How do we help students discover their passions?
  4. What is the essential learning that schools impart to students?
  5. How do we adapt our curriculum to the technologies that kids are already using?
  6. What does an educated person look like today?
  7. How do we change policy to support more flexible time and place learning?
  8. What are the essential practices of teachers in a system where students are learning outside of school?
  9. How do we ensure those without privilege have equal access to quality education and opportunity?
  10. How do we evaluate and validate the informal, self-directed learning that happens outside of school?


The next step was the creation of a wiki – This is a place to continue the conversation and provide tangible results. Taking a step back but keeping an overview, Will has asked for volunteer moderators for each of the questions.

I volunteered for Question #6: What does an educated person look like today? I’m interested in how it relates to my thesis, the original title of which was ‘What does it mean to be ‘educated’ and ‘digitally literate’ in the 21st century’.

Help me out. Send a tweet to @dajbelshaw with the #10fored hashtag with some ideas. Or, better yet, add your thoughts to the wiki page!

Thanks in advance! 😀

(image CC BY CarbonNYC)

4 thoughts on “Ten big questions for education

  1. Thanks for blogging about our crowdsourcing project, Doug, and for taking on one of the questions. Here’s to a successful outcome. ;0)

  2. I would like to bring to your attention the writings of Mr. Mortimer J. Adler and Robert M. Hutchins on liberal education regarding the idea of a great conversation that has been going on among the recognized authors of published works in the Western Canon for centuries. Mr. Adler wrote a very comprehensive summary for education that can be found in the Syntopicon of “Great Books of the Western World”(1952) . This might be a useful structure around which to organize the big questions and the conversations. The syntopicon lists topics related to education that are still relevant in modern times. Mr. Adler also wrote a more recently published rewrite of the Education summary in “The Great Ideas: A Lexicon of Western Thought” (1992).

    I would like to think in parallel with you to collect information. Dr. Edward De Bono developed a thinking framework known as Six Thinking Hats in which gathering information in parallel with others is known as wearing a White Hat. The idea is to collect relevant information without judging it before adding it to a collection.

    I would also be interested in joining or seeing the results of groups of 3 or 4 people linked to 5 other small groups to do a SOLE (Self Organized Learning Environment) session on these big questions. Since everyone has their own computer, maybe the clumping could be around a group information storage wiki. The groups, however, should be allowed to exchange what they have found and collaborate as a larger group of 20 people. P.S. WATSON can be a member of any group.

    I would to make a small contribution with a padlet on Education that I created.

    I have organized my padlet a bit with a column of interesting ideas on the far left and individual ideas/visions horizontally. On the far right I placed many criticisms of education that have been made from Roman times to more recent times.
    At the present time, I consider the “Learning by Doing plus Mentoring” vision of Dr. Roger Schank with respect to education to be the most comprehensive. I also like the ideas of Dr. Sugata Mitra, R. Buckminster Fuller, Salman Khan and others. A major problem, however, is how to morph the present educational system to Dr. Schank’s goal.

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