XQ may not be the silver bullet, but maybe, we need to consider efforts like XQ in context and…
Sarah Luchs

I’m thinking of the transformation time-frame for the other 15 million kids.

Sarah, thanks so much for the thoughtful response.

You’ve hit spot on several points. “Can we do better?” “what if it’s not about the schools so much..?”, and “Students don’t always get the opportunity to help lead the reinvention of their schools”. Amen to all.

You’ve also brought in the analogy of Tesla. Which is how I think of Superschools. Expensive, not widely supported, and really not touching the lives of people near me any time soon.

Contrast this with the iPhone ecosystem. The iPhone itself is a technological wonder. As a machine, it puts the sensing and computing power of the B2 bomber into the palm of your hand. A rare level of design achievement indeed.

Yet if Apple had introduced only a machine, a device-in-a-box, it would today still be quite expensive, and in the hands of but a few. (Actually, they did this; it was called “Newton”).

Instead, Apple layered a completely new ecosystem on top of the entire existing communications and development networks. From day one, anyone with a middle class income could not only own and use the iPhone ecosystem, they could also create for it and build new networks and systems.

I believe high school can and should have such a moment of transformation. A time when we engage all students — and community members — in your words, ‘as clients or lead designers’. When we don’t just redesign using the resources we have, but create a system that continuously attracts vast new resources.

Knowledgeworks generally described this future here.

It may be that the Superschools challenge can be kluged to merge ecosystem work into a competition entry. I’d hoped so. After talking with different people, though, I’m now of the feeling XQ is excluding that type of design work, in deference to new schools-in-a-box. I wrote this hoping to be told we are wrong.

The iPhone ecosystem changed the world as most of us know it in under seven years. It did this by ‘attracting interest, ideas, diverse talent, and resources … and healthy dose of enabling competition/collaboration’. Not once, though, not through a year’s contest, but on an ongoing, day-in-day-out basis.

Wouldn’t it be great if we rethought high school to engage students as iterative designers every semester and every year?

Thanks again,

Ed Jones is the author of Hacking High School: Making School Work for All Teens.