School 2.0: Adaptable vs Knowledgable

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I just left this comment on a message board with some pre-service teachers:

What is more important to be adaptable or knowledgeable? (think dinosaurs)

The word adaptable and adaptability have been floating around in my head for some time now and how they define what we are trying to do in the 21st century and why it is so hard for us to put our finger on what School 2.0 means. I then read this from David Warlick

But it’s why I want to think about the term School 2.0 in a different way.  Rather than referring to 2.0 as a version number, we might refer to it as a value of velocity.  School 0 and school 1.0 are schools that are not changing, that are not adapting.  School -1 and School -2 are schools that are going backwards, which, in my opinion, describes U.S. education over the past six years.  School 2.0 is a school that is dynamic, rich with content, equipped with  information tools, and deep with knowledge-building conversations.  School 2.0 adapts!

I agree, and it’s becoming more clear to me why School 2.0 is so hard to define. School 2.0 is about adapting to the changing times, about adapting to the skills/knowledge/resources that our students need to be successful once they leave us. The problem is schools want concreteness. We like our mission statements our vision statements we like knowing that there is something we are meant to accomplish. What if School 2.0 was defined by it’s adaptability?

School 1.0 was about knowledge and being knowledgeable in your field. You only needed to be adaptable when a company downsized or you were laid off. But in today’s flat world you need to continue to adapt, continue to learn, because if you don’t someone else, be it your neighbor or a person in Asia will.

School 2.0 understands that this is just the beginning and there is no end, that everything new leads to something else new. If you think we’ve reaching the end, then I encourage you to watch this video.

This brings me back to a post I did just over a year ago when I talked about schools being in a state of perpetual beta

Perpetual Schools: A theme for many educators is the idea that schools are ever evolving to meet the real-time demands of students. Rather than release scheduled theory updates. Educators like Google will add features as they become available and adapt dynamically to their students’ requirements, which are in turn de facto ‘testers.’

Is this a bad thing? The ability to adapt is what is defining School 2.0. Chris Lehmann’s SLA is a good example. They started off with Moodle and are now starting to adapt to Drupal. If content changes and the tools change I would guess so would the school. The foundation remains the same, but being able to adapt is what will keep School’s moving down the 2.0 road. Once you solidify your thinking and stop adapting then you quickly become extinct…or as David puts it School 0.

School 2.0 will be hard to define, as we are trying to hit a moving target and that target will look different depending on your school and community’s situation. School 2.0 is adaptable, it can come in many different shapes and sizes but at the end of the day it must be able to adapt, to change, and with that we teach our students to adapt, to continue to learn, to continue to seek out new ways of doing things, and asking if there is a better way….and it’s that thinking I believe that will lead to success in the 21st Century.

[tags]21st Century Learning, School 2.0, perpetual education[/tags]

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I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. This is what I’ve been preaching about as well. Would you rather have a teacher who is a master of history, or someone who is a master of learning, of information management. Content is still important, but it is one thing among a few that we need to be thinking of.

  2. Wonderful post… lots to think about… but one way I think about the idea of change is this — great schools should never answer the question, “Why should we do X this way?” with the answer, “Because we did it that way last year.”

    Question all practice, even if all that does is cause you to reaffirm your best ideas.

  3. An unpopular stance I find myself repping more and more often in the stadium of math teachers is that the ability to retain information is diminishing in importance. Saxon textbooks spiral like crazy. Kids practice skills they’ve practiced six weeks ago.

    I don’t frown on that but neither can I escape the fact that I had to relearn pretty huge cuts of Geometry when I went to teach it this year. In my graphic design work, I use certain Photoshop actions and techniques once every few months. Retaining that knowledge serves me little purpose when I know exactly how to find it again.

    The best skill I think I can teach is how to find knowledge rather than how to retain it.

    Oh, and PS, the nebulousness of School 2.0 is driving a lot of us curious, but wary, teachers straight to the brink. It all sounds so exciting even though we don’t have a clue what “it” is.

  4. I am only adding my agreement with the above, but in response to Dan, I think that the “nebulousness” is sort-of the point. School 2.0 is about change. It’s about adapting. I won’t rehash this, because people much smarter than I have already said as much.

    My 1 cent (though in comparison to Warlick’s 2, this may be over-valued?): An adequate definition of School 2.0 may not be possible. Instead, we are talking about and idealogy or a belief or an understanding. Just like the higher-order thinking we are trying to get kids to do, School 2.0 is a higher-order idea. You can’t put your finger on it, because it’s bigger or better than something that fits under my finger. It’s about adapting and knowing how to do that. So like Dan said, let’s teach them how to find knowledge, and then teach them how to figure out how to DO stuff and FIGURE OUT stuff and SOLVE stuff with that information. And then, let’s let them bend it to their will. Because by that stage, they won’t need us anymore.

  5. As Dennis says so well, School 2.0 is about change and higher-order ideas. As educators we will need to be continually thinking outside the square, and taking more risks…..the bottom line, we cannot (as schools) remain what we have been in the past…. that will no longer work in this “new world”. We need to teach kids how to THINK, how to think differently and creatively. I believe the “new world” is much more about innovation and new ideas and possibilities….and to know what to do when you don’t know what to do!! Now that’s adaptability…..and I think adaptability goes hand in hand with atttude…..and that will take us places…..

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