Admit it: Your School is Dead
Here’s an idea: Write the story of how and when your school died. Some stories, the sadder and scarier
ones, will probably be set two or three years into the future. Others, perhaps, may still have twenty. But
if we don’t innovate, what we are doing as schools, there is no ‘lived happily ever after’ ending waiting for
us—no, we will all die.
So, yes, I’m suggesting you write the story of your school’s grand failure. It is the ‘once-upon-a-time’ tale
about how your school used to matter and then, one day, it didn’t. Page two could sound like this:
“…all of a sudden, on that bright and lovely Spring day, all the little boys and girls
stopped coming to our school. At first we didn’t understand. After all, we still had many
beautiful books, and we had teachers that cared deeply for the children. We even had a new
playground. But the children had disappeared. We looked for them high and low, but they
were nowhere to be found.
Many years later we discovered that the children had gone off to other places to learn
and grow. Our school, as we now know, was no longer teaching them what they needed to
know. And so they left. Our pretty little school had become irrelevant…blah, blah, blah….”
Not a bad idea, huh? Actually, it’s an extremely powerful idea. So, how could this exercise play out?
Have different divisions and departments write the story of their demise. What happens or
doesn’t happen that makes us irrelevant?
Assign classes—at all levels—to work on text, layout, pictures.
Have parent groups add to it or edit it.
And through the ‘writing process,’ get the community to read the story about what ‘could have
Then, once they know the story about how their school ends up in the valley of oblivion, get the
community to write the last chapter—workshop it or crowd-source it.
This last chapter becomes the “and they lived and learned happily ever after,” ending.
This is how the American School of Bombay is going to write our happy ending (please feel free to steal
our idea). My weekly note to the community will go something like this:
By now everyone has read the sad story of what happened to ASB in 2020 because we failed to remain
educationally relevant. Well, let’s change that destiny—let’s rewrite our ending. Send me a paragraph or
two of how you think (or would like) the last chapter to go. Here’s the way the chapter begins:
“Mr. Rajiv, a second grade teacher at ASB, woke up from a nightmare. He was terrified by what
he had dreamed—the death of his school. He quickly dressed and caught a rickshaw to school. He
was in a panic. But when he arrived he saw all the mommies and daddies and all the boys and girls
were happily walking into the gates of the school. He was so relieved, he almost wept. It had been,