What Would A Volunteer School Of Education Look Like?

One of the big projects we’ve been most excited about that P2PU is the recently launched School Of Education pilot. This pilot represents the first step in finding out if the model of open, community-based peer learning can be used to enrich professional development for K-12 teachers.

In a very short amount of time we’ve seen a great response, and the pilot has been the springboard for some great discussions and debates around the potential on the Web for a volunteer-run School of Education that could award a global teaching certification. As always, it’s better to read these discussion in situ  – Karen Fasimpaur has written a great series of blog posts tagged “Formal vs DIY”  – you can read all of them here.  Anna Batchelder over at Bon Education’s dot.Learntblog also put together this great summary, which exposes the problems inherent in teacher training  (insufficient teacher training, little ongoing professional development, a chronic lack of funding in schools) and explores possible solutions, including a vision of what a completely free School of Education run by volunteers might look like.

Reading these blogs, it’s easy to feel inspired, and it quickly becomes clear that these possibilities are very close to becoming reality – and we at P2pU think that’s just about the most exciting thing we can imagine. If you’re interested in joining the growing community that’s working on this project, we’d love to have you – feel free to join the School of Education pilot at P2PU, either as a participant in a course or as a community member.


Image: CC BY 2.0, by Sean MacEntee on Flickr.

About jessykate

Jessy is a technologist, hacker, designer of experimental institutions, and community builder.


  1. Why would any teachers come? Yes, some might — the most active, the most excited, the most passionate. But they’re not the problem. How could you package teacher professional development so that it’s easily accessible, engaging, and no-cost (or as they’re finding in LAUSD, you have to pay the teachers to get them to attend)? You make a difference, at-scale, by engaging lots of teachers, not just the few who will voluntarily take the classes.

    If you compare this to professions like law or medicine, the practice pays for the practitioner to seek out professional development (often at really nice locations!). But teachers are expected to work long hours at night, on their own time, for professional development? The sustainability problem with the volunteer school of ed idea is not to keep the volunteers producing, it’s to get teacher-participants.

  2. The concept on the outset sounds like a good one – education is a positive thing that changes lives and there are a lot of teachers (professional and trainee) either looking for experience or to work voluntarily in a foreign country.

    However, saying that the school will be ‘completely free’ would probably equate to instability. The staff (or volunteer) turnover would be extreme and the students’ learning would suffer as a result. Some volunteer would treat it as a bit of fun; which it certainly is not.

    A solid financial base is always required and offering volunteers free accommodation and food for their work, would be a big step forward in creating a stable environment where volunteers can manage their own personal affairs as well. But this costs money as well – nothing is free, really.

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