Announcing the Winner of the Socratic Challenge

Dear Readers,

Please congratulate Jonathan Hasak for his winning essay on Oakland Public Schools.  We're excited to publish the work and hope that you please pass along your congratulations.



Original Challenge

Calling everyone who's tired of our one-size-fits-all factory-like education system: How will (or has) YOUR local school district move(d) to embody the principles of creativity and adaptability mapped out by Sir Ken Robinson?  Describe in 2042 words how you plan to change or have changed education paradigms in your district (or ideally a combination of both).

Policy shifts like the new Common Core State Standards, California Governor Jerry Brown's local control funding formula, and the new California Collaborative for Educational Excellence make local school districts dramatically more autonomous.  Such changes provide a golden opportunity to transform education’s much derided, one-size-fits-all factory model into something that is quite frankly, more human.

We want to know how school districts will take advantage of the new found flexibility in order to build a more fertile educational ecosystem that embodies Sir Ken's principles of creativity and adaptability.  This challenge is hunting for both prospective plans with strategies for change and retrospective case studies documenting change in Sir Ken's direction.  We imagine the strongest submissions will likely be a combination of the two. 

Key questions to consider in your plan include: what is the current reality of your school district?  Please include both qualitative observations (ideally firsthand) and quantitative metrics (demographics, student achievement, etc.) in your description.  What is your vision for youth as they matriculate through and then graduate from your district?  What educational structures (class schedules, community involvement, curriculum, testing) would you change and how would that enable the learning environment to move from today's reality to that vision?  What policies (if any) at a state or federal level prevent those changes? 

Submissions will be judged on their pioneering spirit, applicability, and ability to really shift people's paradigms.  Imagine you are writing for a superintendent or other education leader interested in Sir Ken’s ideas, but is unsure how to implement them.  California has a golden opportunity to move in that direction, and we want to hear the best  pragmatic, actionable ideas from around the world so that we might seize that moment.


 Jane Patterson, Wesley Farrow, Miho Kuwagaw, Annie Chang, and Daniel Cheung 

Our judges have a strong background working in the front lines of education and have a well documented record of implementing real change.  Together, they garner a broad swath of experience as teachers, tutors, school and district management, nonprofit support leadership and as other pillars of the education community.