“The changes that are needed in schools will take root more readily if local and national policies actually support them.” – Ken Robinson, Creative Schools
Seriously, we should not wait around for local and national policies to catch up to the innovative strategies/ideas that our schools need and our students deserve.
Here are some things I’ve been thinking a lot about lately; things I believe our schools need and our students deserve!
- Opportunities for students to learn what they want I think the term of the day for this is “Passion-Based Learning.” Once students have a keen sense of their interests (see point 3 below), students could create a learning schedule that is guided by professional educators. These learnings could then be shared to a larger community of peers, educators or other stakeholders. If done this way, imagine how many unique experiences and ideas could be shared within a school community?
- Opportunities for teachers to learn from each other and from students With knowledge literally at our fingertips, it would be great to see all educators roll up their sleeves with students and learn how to use this ever-increasing pool of knowledge to find problems, solve problems and create solutions. We all know that teachers are not the only sources of informational knowledge, but many times our classrooms still look like the students do not have access to Youtube, wikipedia, etc. Wouldn’t it be great if students and teachers had more opportunities to use these additional resources to make sense of and evaluate information? Wouldn’t it be even better if students and teachers were expected to identify problems through analysis/synthesis of these informational resources rather than just solve problems identified by a textbook publisher?
- Opportunities for students to explore passions and interests during the school day This one seems like a repeat of #1, but it recognizes that many students have never had the chance to figure out what they enjoy. Some students figure it out coincidentally, while so many others graduate without a clue! This type of learning looks messy and would require a lot of trust in students. We could not expect that all students complete the same homework assignment on the same night. We could not expect that students move from classroom to classroom in neat 42-minute chunks.
- Opportunities for students to NOT learn particular subjects Now this idea will get some fired up, but I am not referring to basic proficiencies of reading and writing. However, we continue giving the one-size-fits all curriculum to students in most subjects, and all students are expected to master all standards. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if students had more say in what they learned (within reason, of course)? Why is it that all students are held to the same graduation requirements? Wouldn’t we inspire so many more learners if we created graduation requirements that better mirrored their passions/interests?