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Time to Redesign Learning

June 01, 20236 min read

I am a revolutionary force for positive change in how people are able to learn.”

In what now feels like a past life, I used to teach a course on entrepreneurship at a local public high school. Each semester, students in that course would work together in small teams to design a business. In spite of my encouragement to pursue a much more ambitious undertaking, most students would set their sights only on the minimum requirement of launching their business during the two-day market we would host on campus and would then shut them down immediately after. I could coach, encourage, suggest, cheer, and even try to bribe students into using that class as a launchpad for an actual sustainable business venture, but not one student ever did. 

To them, it was just another school project.

As I saw that pattern emerge year after year, I realized that the learning environment had lessons embedded into the design of the institution itself, lessons that often undermined my own curriculum. 

So one year, while discussing this observation with a few students, they presented me with a challenge.

“Well, Bogle, if the design of the institution of school isn’t working, why don’t you design a better one?”

I was caught off guard. These young people had the audacity to imagine that it was so simple to just design a new method, a new approach to educating kids. Little did they know that I had been actively researching this very thing.

That singular moment was probably the apex of my career as a high school teacher.

“Alright, let’s do this!” I said. “Where do you think we should start?”

In addition to this particular entrepreneurship course that I taught, I was also heavily involved with DECA, a competitive program for students to develop their business and marketing skills. A few years prior, DECA had introduced a number of competitive projects built around the Lean Model Canvas, a tool designed by Ash Maurya as a derivative work of Strategyzer AG’s Business Model Canvas, used for quickly designing a new business model. I had designed this course around using the Lean Model Canvas, so both my students and I were familiar with it.

I projected an image of the Canvas onto a dry erase board on my classroom wall, and we spent the next ten minutes working through a very rough idea of what a better learning environment would look like through the eyes of those who would be using it.

It was an absolute threshold moment for me, one of those paradigm-shifting experiences from which there is no return. I saw a new world of possibility open up before me, a world in which learning spaces and education programs were as diverse as the communities they would be designed to serve. With that fresh perspective, compounded by additional concerns about an impending teen mental health crisis (largely related), I could no longer tolerate working within the constraints of the system that withheld so much autonomy from my students and myself. Near the end of that year, I decided to not renew my contract. I would not be going back.

I spent the next few years working on alternative education projects, with the dream of building a new type of school based largely on the preliminary sketch I had developed that day with my students. While I had an idea, I also had doubts that stopped me from pursuing it with any real intent.

  • Who was I to think that I could provide such a radically different way for kids to learn?

  • Why on earth would parents choose to pay me for this when there was a free school just down the block?

  • How could I make this work and actually provide for my family at the same time?

I could see so much evidence of a need for alternative education programs, but as I tried to explain my concept to others I was met with confusion and resistance. It was so difficult to continue believing in my idea when it felt like no one else did.

And yet, in spite of these challenges, I knew that better education options were needed. Not somewhere else, but here. Not just at some later point in the distant future, but now.

But I didn’t see anyone else building the vision in my head. How could they? I had been floundering for years. Why should I expect anyone else to make it magically appear?

So with a little help from my spouse, I got in the habit of writing out a specific phrase every day as an anchor point for the trajectory of my career:

“I am a revolutionary force for positive change in how people are able to learn.”

It didn’t matter that I couldn’t see or feel that statement come to fruition at the time. The point was to convince myself of the potential truthfulness of that statement.

A short time and a number of divine interventions later, I was introduced to an organization that offered to help me start my own microschool. It was not my exact vision, but maybe 70% of the way there, which was too closely aligned for me to walk away from the opportunity.

I started my microschool in August of 2019 out of my home working with a group of kids that ranged from 3rd grade up to 7th grade. To this day, it remains some of the most rewarding work I have ever done. It was magical and chaotic and scary and it fed my soul like nothing else. 

The children in that microschool were empowered to do work that mattered to them, to design projects that would have been unthinkable in most school settings. Most importantly, the children learned that their education didn’t need to be contrived or scripted, but that their authentic experiences were just as valuable to their learning, if not more so, as any online tool or class activity. They could choose to do projects that mattered to them and their community and no one could take that away from them.

Lives were changed for the better in that microschool, mine in particular. 

That is the potential of your microschool as well. This experience is going to change people, and changed people change the world.

What is the Microschool Blueprint?

The Microschool Blueprint has been developed by Microschool Solutions™ as a tool to enable microschool innovators to more effectively design both the business model and the learning model aspects of their microschool. It is based on the experience I had with my own students, so many years ago, to design a better learning model. It is a derivative work of the Business Model Canvas as developed by Strategyzer AG, (the foundation for the Lean Model Canvas I used with my own students that fateful day) but has been customized specifically for microschools. As a tool, it will help you to prioritize the most critical elements of your microschool model, such as the educational approach or special community partnerships, while helping you to identify gaps that need to be filled in order for your microschool to succeed. 

Make no mistake, the Microschool Blueprint will not do the work for you. It is simply a tool for analyzing and evaluating what work remains to be done, while prioritizing that which is most likely to define the secondary aspects of the microschool. 

Nearly everyone has brilliant ideas that are never executed because they never move beyond the idea stage into an actionable plan. And that is exactly what a blueprint is, an actionable plan built around a visionary idea.

This is your visionary idea.

Download your Blueprint here.

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