An integrated, PBL course idea – Past, Present, and Future of USA Schooling

I wonder…

Why don’t we devote more time and attention in school to studying schools? What if there were a course akin to “Past, Present, and Future of USA Schooling?” Could mixed-aged classrooms take on various design challenges for improving schools? Could such design challenges lead to learners studying the present state of schools in the U.S.? Could such a course create a “need to know” about the history of schooling in the U.S.? Could such a course integrate lessons that would typically be relegated and segregated to English, math, language, science, and history?

What might happen to the rate and effectiveness of school change-and-growth if we approached the issue in such a way?

Like ripples in a pond, students could better understand the WHYS and HOWS and WHATS of one’s own school. How does a school decide on curriculum? How does a school educate its own faculty? How does a school business office work? What are the issues that my school faces in terms of sustainability and campus planning?

Then, the next ripple in the pond may be to understand the school landscape in one’s own city and/or state. Schools from various states could collaborate on building a collective understanding of schooling in the U.S. How did charters develop? Why has homeschooling grown so much in the last decade? Imagine the collective database, resources, and growing understanding. Imagine guiding students to employing such scientific methods to the understanding of one’s own school, as well as to schools in more general terms.

From such a foundation, what might the next generation of school leaders achieve?!

“Learn from Mistakes” Student Devotional at MMM 8-22-11

A few years ago, the Westminster Junior High School added “Monday Morning Meetings” as a regular community occurrence for our approximately 560 middle-school students and 80 faculty. The 15-minute, weekly assembly is lead by middle schoolers – at this time, the leadership team is composed of our student Honor Council. Much of our thinking involves this simple principle – if you want to teach leadership, students need an authentic thing to lead.

On Monday, August 22, one of our students provided a superb devotional about “Learning from Mistakes.” With great fortune, I had my Flip camera, and I had pressed the record button!

Thanks to the Honor Council and to “K” for a superb beginning to this year’s student-led Monday Morning Meetings. K’s opening message provided the ideal sentiment for starting a year that should be full of exciting learning – the real-life learning that is full of mistakes from which to learn and grow.