I watched a TED Talk about Education on PBS the other night and I believe I heard the word “revolution” used at least three times. Without question, it’s puzzling that no one is happy with our current system of public education, but we stubbornly continue to do things in the same way–year after year after year. A couple of decades ago I wrote that a school is one of the few institutions that a Rip Van Winkle would recognize immediately. We still have desks in rows, textbooks on desks, boards in the front, and quite a few bored in the back.

I’m not sure why we’re so loath to change. Is the system to big, too unwieldy? Lack of funds? Lack of will? Lack of imagination?

Bill Gates, one of the TED speakers, said research confirms that regular feedback improves teaching which naturally improves learning. Principals are overworked and are lucky to observe a teacher even once a year. What if Boomers who have an interest in kids “adopted” a willing teacher and dropped by on a regular basis — not to write up an evaluation, but to informally offer feedback and help the teacher identify problems and practical solutions? A volunteer could observe quite a bit just by sitting with a kid or two to practice reading.

I’d be willing to do that. I can hardly stand to read another word about what is happening at the national and state levels of government, but I’ve got my eye on that little school a few blocks from where I live. Instead of trying to change everything, maybe I can change a few things.