Our schools are based on a framework to create good little factory workers.
Much of traditional school paradigm that’s used today is based on the principles that helped the Industrial Revolution thrive:
Clock in. Go to your station.
Don’t talk. Do your work quietly.
Forget creativity. Forget innovation.
Clock out. Go home totally uninspired.
A talk by Heidi Hayes-Jacobs recently inspired me to think about what schools need to become. We have students who are connected, who will need creativity and complex skills to succeed in tomorrow’s world.
What year are we preparing them for, she asked, 1991 or the year they graduate? (Or the years beginning their careers?)
What we don’t need are tweaks to the current system. What we really need is a whole new system.
So I started thinking … What if?
WHAT IF students weren’t grouped by age (grade level) but by skill?
WHAT IF students had more control of the path of their own learning?
WHAT IF students used their newly learned skills to produce something meaningful instead of bubbles on a test?
WHAT IF school schedules revolved around the hours that students’ bodies were physically most ready to learn?
WHAT IF school schedules were fluid and students only were in class when they needed to be?
WHAT IF classes were more like meetings, scheduled when necessary for a specific purpose?
WHAT IF students working together was seen as collaboration instead of cheating?
WHAT IF, instead of just guessing what the author meant, students reached out to the author digitally?
WHAT IF school projects harnessed the power of young people and their passion to do something great for the community?
WHAT IF students started creating their digital footprints with quality work instead of off-color Twitter posts?
The beautiful thing about these “what if”s is that I’ve seen so many teachers creating engaging learning environments and experiences for their students. They realize that the world is different today and will be VERY different tomorrow, and they’re teaching for that.
Here’s the most important “what if” question of them all.
WHAT IF we all started moving toward relevance in our students’ lives — and in their future lives? What would education look like then?
Imagine with me — add another “what if” question in a comment below!
Matt is scheduled to present at the following conferences this school year:
Interested in having Matt present at your event or school? Contact him by e-mail!
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