School 2.0: What if …


Teaching | Monday, January 20, 2014

School 2.0: What if …

School 2.0: What if ...

What if students met in classrooms only when they needed to? Or engaged with experts digitally? What if we ditched our industrial revolution mindset for education? What if …

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!

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  • Chris James says:

    …what if the FUNDING model wasn’t tied to the factory model too? What if we measured content of character, depth of empathy, and agreeableness along with knowledge of math, and science, and English and social studies? What if we made sure there was a “test out” option for EVERYthing? What if school districts got out of the food service and transportation industries and spent those funds instead on education? What if Google and Wal-Mart where in charge of inventory, and Apple and Google in charge of innovation in schools?

  • k Gee says:

    WHAT IF school schedules were fluid and students only were in class when they needed to be?
    It’s called a scheduling nightmare…Even in careers people have schedules where they show up to work and go home at the end of the day. They have specific places to be and cannot be “fluid” like you think. When these students are not in school, where will they be? It becomes a citizen’s nightmare because the crime rate increases when kids are not in school. Besides, parents who are working will have increased child care because those students have to be supervised all the time. Teachers are fired for leaving students unsupervised…..parents go to jail if kids get hurt because they are unsupervised……..With all these budget cuts where more students are being piled up in classes and ignoring the class size amendment, who’s going to pay for these wonderful ideas to materialize?

    • Matt Miller says:

      You’re right … it would be a scheduling nightmare. But sometimes nightmares for us are worth taking on if it benefits students.

      I’m not suggesting that kids be unsupervised or that they be released from school when they’re not in class. In fact, I’m not even suggesting that this is the best idea or that I have all the answers for the logistics of it all.

      What I’m suggesting is that the world is changing and the needs of students is changing and the responsibility of schools is changing. We can’t keep doing school the same old way. This is one of those brainstorming sessions where you bounce ideas around in hopes of finding something that works.

  • WHAT IF – students set their own learning agendas each day?

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