So I have posted to the online magazine Slate. They have a crowdsourcing project up around the question of what “schools should look like in the 21st Century”. Below is what I posted. It’s partly a distillation of what gets posted here.
If we look at what we’ve learned from developmental psychology, neuroscience research and leadership training we’ll see that this is what a school should be like:
- mixed-age group environments: it is not chronological age that determines what a student can learns and we all take the time we need to learn. Living things develop in a non-linear process. How long does it take to learn to ride a bike? The answer is: it takes the time that it takes you and that’s all there is to it.
- self-directed, lengthy periods of work to accommodate the fact that intrinsic motivation leads to engagement and meaningful learning. When we work based on interest we invest far more time than anyone could require us to. When a child can choose what to work on based on her interest at the time she is far more likely to find herself productively engaged in the work.
- allow for results-oriented assessment and student participation in assessment rather than raw test scores.
- allow for exploration and open-ended questioning in order to foster real learning through meaning-making activity rather than focus on “content delivery” from a teacher. Students truly learn when they explore and arrive at conclusions rather than being fed “answers”. In this manner the resulting knowledge will be “owned” by them because they figured it out: that’s called learning.
- deliver outcomes that truly prepare students for living their lives effectively and successfully: collaboration, leadership, creativity, adaptability, communication, empathy and resourcefulness. We need a culture of adaptability and creative innovation that will allow students to develop into people who can solve the problems when they do emerge.