Think about all the ways in which our brains are already hard-wired to think about “school.”
Desks. Chairs. Tests. Lectures. Lunchrooms. Hall Passes. Freshman (or Sophomore or Junior) years. AP (or Geometry or Spanish) classes. The list is endless.
Of course, all of these things came about in the creation of a model of education that was designed for the Industrial Age, when we were trying to answer a different set of questions:
Last week, I spent three days at a remarkable independent school in Atlanta. It’s on the verge of designing a new building for its upper school, and I’m part of the team that is lucky enough to help them think about what such a space should look like — and what ultimate purpose(s) it should serve.
It appears I was premature.
A year at this time, in an article for the SmartBlog on Education, I asked: “Are we witnessing the early signs of a sea change in how we think about the best ways to measure student learning and growth?”
Well, what a difference a year makes.
The founder of Intrinsic School and her architects certainly think so. What do YOU think?
Personally, I see some cool stuff, and yet overall something doesn’t sit right. Why, for example, is a school that is pushing the envelope on personalized learning still organizing its students by grade level? Shouldn’t mass groupings by age be the first thing to go?
And is it a good thing to have kids spending 50% of their day on a computer? I suppose the right way to think of it is that a kid is spending half of his or her day doing research, but for a new model of personalization, it feels awfully . . . well . . . depersonalized.
And why is that coastline place set up to have kids literally facing a brick wall? Who thought that was a good idea?
I don’t know — I think this feels more like something that was designed for kitsch, not kids. It’s angular, when learning is round.
What am I missing here? What do you see?
It comes via the U.S. Department of Education, which, of course, has a clear agenda and set of things it wants to trumpet. Does that make the overall package feel unpalatable to you? Or does it capture enough of the spirit of the modern day classroom, and both the challenges and opportunities that are unfolding there, to make you want to see more stories like it?
Tags: good video
Are smaller class sizes the key to breathing new life into today’s public schools, or a misguided effort to solve the problems of a dying era?
I am surprised to say I have come to believe it’s the latter.
And the good news is it already exists . . . Imagine if it existed everywhere?
I spent yesterday attending the Blue School’s fabulous Teaching Innovation conference, where everyone is rightly concerned with how to reimagine education for a changing world.
At a few different points, people spoke about how sad it was that we are working within a system that can’t do the sorts of things we now see are in the best interests of children: personalizing instruction, creating physical spaces that feel less institutional and more welcoming and respectful, and designing learning programs that help young people acquire the skills and dispositions that will be most useful to them as they negotiate their way through a world in which content knowledge is no longer the key to the kingdom — adaptability, compassion, and creativity are.
On March 1, eight-year-old D.C. resident Relisha Rudd disappeared. She was, according to news reports, homeless, hungry, and in the care of a man who likely killed her. The search for her body didn’t even begin until almost three weeks after she was last seen, and, after just one week and a dwindling number of tips, police effectively stopped looking.
On September 13, eighteen-year-old University of Virginia sophomore Hannah Graham disappeared. She was, according to Charlottesville police chief Timothy Longo, a “bright, intelligent, athletic, friendly, beautiful college student who’s been part of our community for the past two years.” Hours after she went missing, state emergency management officials launched a massive search effort that was fueled by more than 4,000 tips. A little more than a month later, her body was recovered.
What can possibly account for the dramatic differences in these two stories?
Several years ago, as the director of the Forum for Education & Democracy, I was lucky enough to meet Ted Sizer. A lion in the field, Ted was warm, welcoming, and eager in both theory and practice to create space for a new person like me to join him in his life’s work.
Ted died five years ago today — too young, at 77. In 2011, I edited Faces of Learning: 50 Powerful Stories of Defining Moments in Education, to try and honor his work and the impact it had on my thinking. It was a book that stitched together 50 people’s stories of their most powerful learning experiences, and the final one to share was Ted’s.