The Pod Paradox
Is Curriculum the Obvious Solution?
There is a great paradox in K-12 education. Teachers do so much to teach our future generation, yet, they are under-appreciated and unhappy with the current circumstances surrounding education. They are expected to be disciplinarians, counselors, graders, performers, psychologists, janitors, nurses, AND expert mathematicians, scientists, and historians! And they are expected to balance all of these roles and be effective at all of them.
This constitutes a major flaw in a significant sector of our economy and is underscored by the depressing turnover rate and job satisfaction rate of teachers across the country. About 16% of teachers leave the profession every year and the rate is almost double in schools that chiefly serve kids of color. This means that in many schools, more than one-third of the teachers leave the classroom every year!
The currently exploding micro-school/pod movement is not solving the paradox. I have seen many attempts over the past 10 years that have failed to work effectively. And, the legions of new education entrepreneurs that are marching forward with refreshing visions of small, responsive, caring, one-room schoolhouses will still need to perform all of the aforementioned roles, perhaps even more if there are business items to tend to.
The private (and conceivably publicly-funded in the future) micro-school/pod-school movement will not become mainstream without a curriculum platform that can enable non-expert guides to administer rigorous, world-class academic experiences for their kids. The pod movement survives and goes mainstream and into the public realm if, and only if, it is backed by a proven, efficacious, cloud-based curriculum, which enables non-expert guides to deliver world-class academics.
We are sitting on the sweetest moment for rebuilding K-12 education. The inefficiencies in our current setup are appalling when you compare inputs (money) and outputs (pick your metric - international PISA scores, graduation rates, standardized tests, absenteeism, achievement gap).
We have amazing teachers in the United States who are tireless, innovative, and entrepreneurial. We have the right technology (billions of dollars have been poured into education technology services in the past 20 years). What we don’t have is an effective curriculum platform to serve these one-room schoolhouse pods. Thereby, the paradox hamstringing our traditional system will remain in micro-schools and pods unless we solve it.