Who Moved My Cheese? is a story about change that takes place in a Maze where four amusing characters look for “Cheese”-cheese being a metaphor for what we want to have in life, whether it is a job, a relationship, money, a big house, freedom, health, recognition…The “Maze” in the story represents where you spend time looking for what you want. It can be the organization you work in, the community you live in, or the relationships you have in your life.
This is a story of how people or organizations respond to changes in their lives. As I read the book I immediately identified with how education is changing and how some educators are responding to those changes.
The education paradigm has been irreversibly changed due to the internet and the ubiquity of information.
Our school system (length of the school day and year – summers off) still reflects the needs an agrarian or industrial economy.
I believe education in general is still structured around the needs of a primary and secondary economy. We originally had short school days and summers off so that the kiddos could help Mom and Pop with the chores on the farm. Our school revenue is still collected from taxes on property. When we were an agrarian society, landowners were generally wealthy. Today, farmers and ranchers are not particularly wealthy while some of the highest grossing businesses in our communities operate in buildings with just a small square footage.
I also believe that many policy makers and high ranking education officials have educational expectations that reflect their personal experiences from that earlier educational model.
The problem is we don’t live in that old system – there has been a paradigm shift. The US is a tertiary or possibly quaternary economy. Students today are digital natives that don’t run home after school to help Mom & Pop.
The Cheese has moved…
If you have read the book you know that the characters in the book had two general responses to change; the mice moved on and changed immediately, the little people waited and griped and fretted and moaned and hoped the “good ‘ol days” would return.
As the mice moved forward and looked for new cheese they made mistakes, took wrong turns, and ran into dead ends but ultimately they found the new cheese.
I believe educators experimenting with the flipped classroom model are in a similar situation. They have recognized that education has changed – forever. In response to that change they are trying new methods of teaching in the new paradigm.
Flipclass teachers are making mistakes, learning, changing, and adapting and looking for ways to teach digital natives in a world where technology places information literally in the palm of their hands.
I have seen some very recent criticisms of the flipped model of instruction. That’s fine; at least those educators are actively seeking new and innovative ways to teach. I trust they will succeed.