Orsch…Cutting the Edge in Education is Jackie Burt’s hopeful message to students past, present, and future and to teachers everywhere. It is about the possibilities, not the challenges or problems. The blockades to meaningful, student-centered change have been well documented since the dawn of classical education and throughout the evolution of modern education. Burt’s book makes meaningful reform seem possible and obtainable. She seeks to overcome the many barriers to effective change. Barriers include the current educational model, the way in which we organize schools, deeply rooted traditions, and ingrained biases that govern how we measure children’s progress. This is where Orsch is invaluable.
Orsch is at its soul an educational lab. Orsch is a breeding ground for ideas, for ideals, and for dreaming big—for seeking answers to the burning question of “What if?” Burt’s experience in Orsch is well explained in her book Orsch…Cutting the Edge in Education. Her book contains practiced, low-cost, high-yield ideas and education structures that have made a difference in children’s learning. She explains that in the fifth year of the lab school, the real, unfettered potential of students is being witnessed and it is rife with exciting possibilities that could change the world of education.
Burt is arguably the perfect individual to write Orsch…Cutting the Edge in Education, in part because she is invested in the lab school she created, and in part because of who she is—an out-of-the-box thinker who grew up experiencing a multitude of educational paradigms, and then spent her career creating innovative educational settings. Burt has a love of teaching that is evident in her book. She shares a vigorous enthusiasm that is at once inspiring and infectious. Burt’s ideas are gentle changes and simple customizations that would make such a difference to a child, to a teacher, to a community.
So many education reform texts become self-absorbed and caught up in politics. Not so with Orsch…Cutting the Edge in Education. Orsch is Burt’s brainchild. She created the environment. Her own children were part of her hopeful experiment. Her results have been magical and the feedback from parents and kids has been positive, and appreciative.