How might we hack school to more closely resemble good education? #MustSee Logan LaPlante

We don’t seem to make learning to be happy and healthy a priority in our schools. It’s separate from schools. And for some kids it doesn’t exist at all. But what if we didn’t make it separate? What if we based education on the study and practice of being happy and healthy? Because that’s what it is – a practice. And a simple practice at that.

– Logan LaPlante, 13 years old. TEDxUniversityOfNevada

When I think about what I want for my own children, and when I think about what I want for all children, my list includes the attributes and ideals and realities that LaPlante shares and demonstrates in his profound talk: “Hackschooling Makes Me Happy: Logan LaPlante at TEDxUniversityofNevada.” It may be one of the best TED/TEDx talks I’ve heard.


Also this week, I am immersing myself in Tom Little’s tour of 50 progressive schools during the months of February and March. (Thanks, @GrantLichtman!) As I read @ParkDayTom’s posts, I dig into the school websites and links that Little provides about “emergent curriculum,” PBL, and progressive education. I am struck by such things as…

We believe that learning should be joyful, active, open-ended, project-based, and collaborative in order to foster children’s independence, accountability, intrinsic motivation, and intellectual curiosity.

We believe in cultivating a community of civically-active learners, where everyone’s voice can be heard, as decisions are democratically determined through discourse.

We believe in allowing the time, patience and unpressured environment necessary to support the individual developmental unfolding of each child – academically, socially, and emotionally.

The Children’s School (Chicago) Core Beliefs


Though educators have been challenged in agreeing upon a single definition for progressive education, consensus builds around these defining principles:

  • Education must prepare students for active participation in a democratic society.
  • Education must focus on students’ social, emotional, academic, cognitive and physical development.
  • Education must nurture and support students’ natural curiosity and innate desire to learn. Education must foster internal motivation in students.
  • Education must be responsive to the developmental needs of students.
  • Education must foster respectful relationships between teachers and students.
  • Education must encourage the active participation of students in their learning, which arises from previous experience.
  • Progressive educators must play an active role in guiding the educational vision of our society.

– Progressive Education Network

When Grant Lichtman and I talk, and when I am privileged enough to hear Grant speak and facilitate with bigger audiences, he often says that his own tour of 64 schools in 12 weeks, exploring what innovation in education looks like, could be boiled down to one word – Dewey.

How might we work and take action to help transform schools so that more of them possess these core characteristics? Theses core values?

How might we hack school to more closely resemble good education?