Sunday, December 9, 2007

Change This Newsletter

The Website Change This newsletter has a nice idea about how to use a publication platform to spread ideas about social change.

The site publishes Manifestos in copyright-free form, and encourages their distribution. The manifestos are well written and beautifully formatted, and are limited in length, so that they are suitable reading for policy makers and influencers.

A good sample manifesto is Change the Way to Change the World

Readers are invited (no, make that strongly encouraged) to copy them, e-mail them to everybody, put them on their web sites, print up their own editions to pass out on the street. The costs to Change This and their authors are contained: no costs for paper, ink, postage, etc.

The manifesto authors include many of the 'coolest' people: Tom Peters, Seth Goodin and their ilk. They include educational ideologues like Michael Strong and Chester Finn. However, the pages of Change This are open to many others: there is a proposal process similar to what one might encounter from a print publisher.

The Editors state their goal as follows:

ChangeThis is creating a new kind of media. A form of media that uses existing tools (like PDFs, blogs and the web) to challenge the way ideas are created and spread.

We're on a mission to spread important ideas and change minds.

This idea has a very direct relevance to the Dewey Society's mandate. Here's why:

Some years ago the Philosophy of Education Society UK initiated a publication series called Insights. The various volumes, all authored by card carrying philosophers of education, have been devoted to specific 'hot' policy issues in British education. They have been widely distributed to policy makers, legislative staff personnel, educational administrators, and the press. They have served to maintain the visibility and credibility of philosophy of education there.

Since I read the first Insight volumes I have longed for an American version. Given the mandate of the John Dewey Society, I have considered the Society to be the natural publisher of such a series. Budget limitations, however, have crimped the Society's ability to move ahead with this form of publication.

Change This offers an alternative model. Building from the Change This template, the society could move forward with web-based Insight-like publications on a limited budget.

What would this involve?

The creation of an editorial board by the Board of the JD Society or alterrnatively, byu the members of the commission on Social Issues;

An RFP (similar to that of Change This that could be distributed through the publications of the Society;

The distribution via e-mail alerts to members of the Society + a list of policy makers and staff, influencers, thought leaders, administrative personnel, and the press.

Please take a moment to look at Change This and Change the Way to Change the World then comment on this idea.

1 comment:

Kathleen Knight-Abowitz said...

I visited the CHANGE THIS site; it has yet to build much of a base of "manifestos" regarding education, though I see Checker Finn has already manifested there.

I like the format and idea of this site a great deal and like it as a model for and/or vehicle through which JDS might engage in public discourse on educational topics. I like that these are "finished pieces" -- they are not merely blog entries, and seem to be able to combine the good qualities of scholarship with the accessibility and clear writing of public discourse.

The AERA workshop being planned for 08 should include the naming of a board to get something like this started.