Amanda Montgomery || @acmontgomery

“Journalism has been formed by the convergence of many miscellaneous elements over several centuries and the variety of practices and the complexity of relationships between new writers and the publications they wrote for… even at this early point were manifest in the range of different names by which they and their output were described: authors, curranters, mercurists, newsmen, newsmongers, diurnalists, gazeteers, and (eventually) journalists.”  – Martin Conboy
pg 23 from Journalism: A Critical History

Are you wondering if I’m going to pull a ‘IMDb Trivia’ question and ask what epic early 70s movie featured the above high school in its opening musical number?  Not exactly, but if you’re curious it’s acclaimed Rydell High School (Venice Beach, CA) selected to host Grease 2’s filming.

Now on to a more academic discussion; Let’s consider the community cast surrounding Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta, the fellow Pink Ladies, T Birds, Rydell Highers and of course the ever entertaining faculty who must tolerate/discipline the bevy of ensuing semester shenanigans, staged motorcycle rallies, and football season: Mr. Stuart, Miss Mason, Coach Calhoun, the charming Principal McGee.  Martin Conboy’s thoughts describing how modern journalism’s history reflects an ongoing evolution that continues to blend both writer roles and publication platforms, certainly mirrors a similar pattern when looking at the inner operations effecting modern educational institutions.  The proverbial idea rings true toward both knowledge institutions: It takes a village... and a diverse one at that.

Looking beyond the obvious idea that cooperation, common experience, and connectivity help set the foundations so that such institutions experience success, Conboy also hints that it’s paramount to advocate diversity/fluid communication between niche community facets so that the end result offers broader perspective, increased creativity, and stronger performance.  Although a newsroom context must promote dialogue between advertisers, reporters, editors, and publishers, likewise a classroom context must meld a conversation between principal, superintendent, parent, faculty, administrators, and students.  A combination requiring time, technological advances, developing relationships, and continuing to review operational practices – as Conboy so eloquently points out- will only solidify the strong foundation pertaining to journalism, but also to education.

So if the modern education litmus success test measures how well educational institutions blend the infinite range of resources, personalities, and communication between one another then its possibly fair to offer that the (ironically sing-song) cast from the hit TV series Glee might be just the type of K12 environment parents vote to build locally.  Again, the recurring trend stands paramount- diversity brought together to learn, debate, heck even sing when the mood so strikes the classroom.  Upon striving to understand Conboy’s above observations and relate them to how a 21st century classroom works, try imagining a newsroom, science lab, museum gallery or film set void everything except one person running the show.  Certainly possible – but not at all practical; when an innovative domain (schools, museums, the arts, etc) loose the expansive, colorful, misfit cast of characters who each contribute to the holistic narrative- collaboration amongst the community falls away leaving only a stagnant, archaic structure.

Despite the challenges facing today’s educational institutions, it’s quite fortunate that digital media continues to open never-before engaging opportunities and ways to generate discussion between participants both inside and outside the classroom.  Elearning trends such as class blogs, school Facebook Fan Pages, Teacher Twitter accounts reveal that communication between a school’s community doesn’t necessarily need to occur between 1st and 8th period.  Arguably when one sets out to pursue 21st century knowledge, they’ll need the ability to engage openly.. and also possibly sing and dance.