Hacking Education

“Hacking” is very much back in vogue.

Not the “breaking into computers illegally” kind of hacking. Sadly, that’s never gone out of vogue. Rather, this is the “figure something out all by yourself” hacking.

We’re seeing all kinds of amazing technology hacks. Hack-A-Day is a daily feast of imagination and intriuge.

People are hacking biotechnology. Which, some others find scary.

Kids are hacking skateboards, hacking cars (also called “hooning” in the most disruptively delightful misuse of language since “hippie.”), and of course hacking the daylights out of their mobile phones.

“Hacker culture” as it was known in the 70’s and 80’s is making a major comeback.

There is, it seems, a new thirst for bypassing corporate and socially acceptable channels and doing a little experimentation with life.

It’s like a breath of fresh air.

There’s a ton of sociologically valid reasons for the updraft in hacking. No need to dredge through them here. Suffice it to say there will always be a significant move to counter the prevailing cultuer. And another to counter the counterculturalists. And another to counter those who would counter…well, it goes on and on.

We live in a world where most anyone can simply “pick your movement” and hang on for a wild ride. Look deeper within larger prevailing trends, and we’ll always see a good-to-great number of very interesting subtrends. Like hacking.

Amid the ensuing chaos, some people have begun to write about “hacking education.” It’s a subject I find endlessly fascinating and frustrating.

Fascination, because it so desperately needs to be done. Frustrating because it’s such a tough hack. Here are some reasons why:

– For the most part, we’ve left the education process to the “experts.” Not the execution, necessarily. A growing cabal of homeschoolers, craftschoolers and privateers are breaking the establishment’s grasp. Slowly.

I’m talking about the process of education, and its deepest operating premises. It is riddled with assumptions about subject coverage and “standards” and delivery techniques. It is overloaded with assumptions about the value of credentials and the brand identity of one’s education experience.

Say it with me: “It’s IMPORTANT that my kid get into a ‘good college.’” (Thus endeth the poor kid’s quest for their own original mission, at least until they’re 28 and have lived at your place for an extra 6 years.)

Hack This and You Can Hack Education

Hacking is all about figuring things out for yourself. Education is all about feeding information and answers to others.

Hacking is all about results and experimentation. Education is all about navigating a system and “earning” credentials.

Hacking education would require feeding information to others in such a way that they figure things out for themselves. Then assigning credentials accordingly.


Do that and you’ll have hacked education. Not talk about it. Not give it lip service.  Not set up some microspecimen lab where it sort of takes place.

Do it. Systematically. Comprehensively. Courageously.

Set up a system where everybody learns shortcuts to figuring things our for themselves. Let them investigate, explore, use intuition to solve problems and surmount obstacles.

Then figure out how to turn all that messy experimentation into neat credentials they can show to the world.

Liberate them from the tyranny of compliance, while retaining trace evidence of their genius in a form that reflects their value.

Do that. You’ll be the biggest horse’s bottom the establishmentarian educators ever knew. And you’ll unleash a global creative wave like the world has never seen.

The time is now. The opportunities are immediately before us. Let’s hack this deal.