It’s hard to believe that 10 years have passed since Remake Learning was just a good idea. Back in 2006, the notion a network of new learning opportunities for Pittsburgh’s children was an innovative concept in need of dedicated execution. Today, the network is thriving, with 250 organizations involved.
The Stanford Social Innovation Review recently took note of these accomplishments in “Making School New,” an article tracing the decade-long trajectory of Remake Learning. (The author rightly points out that Pittsburgh’s own Mister Rogers, one of the first to recognize the educational potential of technology, laid the groundwork decades earlier.)
As its name implies, SSIR is a magazine focused on innovation, and the Remake Network is being featured for its original approach to learning and civic engagement.
The article starts where Pittsburgh leaders began a decade ago: with the realization that the education status quo was unacceptable. Children were no longer engaged in their lessons. Teachers were not connecting with their students. Technology was changing, the job market was evolving, and young people’s interests were going in new directions. Educators and city leaders knew they had to rethink the system.
New to the Grable Foundation in 2006, Gregg Behr heard the message loud and clear. He gathered educators, researchers, and technologists to address this “seismic” change in learning. They traded expertise and discussed how the thoughtful use of technology could re-engage young people. They envisioned Pittsburgh as a place where learning happened everywhere—a community where informal and formal education institutions collaborated to create a continuum of opportunities for all young people.
Born from that effort—with a few different iterations and much invaluable support along the way—was the Remake Learning Network. Now, there are more than 250 members in the thriving ecosystem, though we know our work isn’t done.
We are especially pleased to hear our story told on a national stage. It’s always great to be recognized for the hard work the city and the network’s members have done. It’s even more important, however, to see the model gain traction nationally, because innovations in education are still needed to ensure that all children have a chance to engage in learning like the kids in Pittsburgh do.
As Behr says in the article:
“There’s no reason every community in the country couldn’t do what we’ve done. You may not have 250 potential partners, but you probably have schools, libraries, businesses, a community college.” And “that’s enough,” he says, for local leaders to “think collectively about helping kids be future-ready.”
That kind of thinking, Behr suggests, leads to high aspirations. “We want to create a community where the whole region is a kid’s campus,” he says. “Whatever it takes to light up learning—robotics, maker [spaces], gaming, experiences that happen in or out of school—we want to create learning pathways for kids that help them navigate the economy, become great citizens, and thrive as lifelong learners.”