What if the key to breakthrough school improvement is not mandating complicated new solutions built on an elusive combination of standards, pedagogical practices, and assessment, but rather dislodging entrenched bureaucratic barriers and rethinking restrictive education norms entirely? What if the system is the problem? What if we were free to start from scratch?
In ASCD's February book of the month, Education Unbound: The Promise and Practice of Greenfield Schooling (2010), Frederick M. Hess, a resident scholar and the director of education studies at AEI, explored those questions and mapped out a "greenfield" approach to schooling that seeks to create conditions where outstanding teaching and learning can flourish. Greenfield schooling requires scrubbing away our assumptions about districts, schoolhouses, teacher training, and other familiar arrangements, so we might use resources, talent, and technology to support excellent teaching and effective learning in smarter, better ways.