Re-listening to outgoing NAIS president Pat Bassett’s TEDxSaintGeorgesSchool – Schools of the Future, I heard him say that one of his grandchildren attends The Watershed School. At 18:30, Bassett explains the way 7th graders start the school year at Watershed – with an expedition to the source of the Colorado River. Learning is based on exploration and discovery, problem finding and problem solving – real-life context in which the content is solute dissolving in solvent to form a solution.
What does your school believe helps students learn best? How are you realizing those beliefs?
The opposite of poverty is not wealth. … In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.
Stevenson’s talk has me thinking almost constantly about why we are not more purposefully, more systemically, more deliberately re-examining our identity as schools. What is school for? Why are we not re-organizing more curriculum and experiences around such grand challenges of justice, fairness, inclusion,…. Through these lenses, we could practice literacies of many types, numeracy in context, social science, communication for authentic purpose. Young people have a wonderful sense of fairness. We should harness and educate this sense and make a stronger impact on our world…now.
As schools, we need to keep our eyes on the prize. The real prize.
Most schools offer “History,” and many provide “Study Hall.” What if we offered “News?” Various points of entry for current events and modern journalism could be explored. By nature, the topic is transdisciplinary and PBL-rich. I can imagine weaving in every discipline. In “Studio Hall,” learners of all ages could use time to create, not just to complete (Study Hall’s focus).
Because I work a lot in the domain of Project-Based Learning (PBL), I participate in a number of conversations and ideations about great, future PBL ideas. I never cease to be amazed, though, at how quickly many adults see the PBL-design process as adult-centric. We neaten the mess of education-industry learning too much, and we too often exclude systemic inclusion of students in these early design stages. What if we expected and empowered students to co-design curriculum?
* Screenshot of just two related tweets summarizing some of Pat Bassett’s comments
in a plenary session at 2012 NAIS Annual Conference.
At TEDxAtlanta: Community on Tuesday, I heard many amazing thinkers and doers. Among them, Rhonda Lowry shared the idea that networked literacy is essential – that we must value relational connections over industrial-age containers (like…bell schedules?!). At virtually all the TED and TEDx events, we hear from amazing folks that are making positive differences in the world. What if we tried 1/2 time with the traditional departmentalized subjects and re:purposed the resulting 1/2 time as “grand challenge curriculum.” We could explore and attack the various challenges of our “real world” and benefit mightily from the problem-solving and transdisciplinary studies.
[My word count today is 95. I embrace that failure! Thanks for reading the extra 50+%. I could write for WEEKS and MONTHS just on this topic!]