On silos and the concept of “open” in education

What if we abolished the organizational structure and chart that follows and spent time matching the work and the workers without regard to pay grades and titles and departments and “report to” structures?  I heard “silo speak” come out of my mouth today and it struck me as to how much I feel like there is a divide between “my job” and “my work” sometimes and how limiting an “organizational structure” can be.  “My work” is the same as it was when I accepted my first teaching position in August 1988 – I want to change how we define “school” by changing how/what/why/when our young people learn.  I have worked on this work as a classroom teacher, as a teacher coach, and in a variety of roles within central office over the years.  I have sometimes struggled with the lines between “my job” and “my work,” but I will never let “my job” get in the way of “my work,” though the two may not always be perfectly aligned.

Open X (where X is “educational resources” or “source software”) is getting a lot of attention in education right now.  Can we save money by adopting OERs instead of published textbooks?  Can we replace MS Office with OpenOffice? Should we scrap BlackBoard and stand up a Moodle server instead?  Open X is different from “free X” in that it is built on the premise that none of us is as smart as all of us and anyone in the community should be able to take something and re-mix it, producing a derivative of it or alter the work itself by suggesting new code or modifying existing code.  Proprietary is the antithesis of open.

How can we use the concept of Open X to eliminate our silos in education?  Would an organization without an “org chart” collapse?  Is it possible that a crowd sourced encyclopedia could be more accurate than a traditionally juried and published one?

I will keep thinking about silos and jobs vs work and proprietary vs open and destructive vs constructive.  I will reflect on my own actions, reactions, and inactions.  I will work on the work!



One Response to “On silos and the concept of “open” in education”

  1. JasonFlom Says:

    Valuable distinction between work and job, Becky. Fortunately, for many of us in education, there are many times when these words are synonyms. I read this post thinking, "Golly, my work is my job. How lucky am I?!"You make a compelling case for toying with norms and structures. I often feel like there is great potential in not just asking and exploring the questions you raise, but to actually play with re-organization. I am a big fan or "Chains of Command" that give the teaching profession greater topography and more niches in order to increase growth options for teachers. I look forward to reading what you come up with in your work, and hopefully in your job.

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