In December I wrote a post called “Really Different Schooling,” and asked folks to share ideas they have on what would make for a truly innovative school. There were plenty of answers, including:
- Full-year schooling
- IEPs for every student
- Teach strategies for being organized.
- Teach strategies for motivating yourself.
- Everyone does chores to clean the school, like in Japan.
- Help them be good at learning with and without technology.
- Ditch traditional grades.
Some gave more detail:
- (from Amy L.) “We have started to change the way our school is run. First year students go to different field trips and listen to outside speakers then in the next year start picking their own interests. Now we are trying to spread this outward.” At Amy’s high school, students pick majors, and can focus on preparing for colleges or careers. They are also tasked with giving speeches about their choices to younger students.
- (from Konni I.) “We need to allow children more voice and choice in what they do. How does that look? I think it looks like a school where students are allowed to use time and resources to be innovators and creators.” Konni also suggested that teacher guidance should happen without the constraints of a bell schedule.
- (from Donovan B.) “Curriculum and school is designed around possible future occupations of the students. i.e. a week or fortnight long focus per occupation.” Donovan was describing a different approach to elementary schooling, and added ideas about involving families.
- (from Nate D.) “I would abolish most textbooks except the teachers guide because we still hire people who need that guiding framework of what content to cover and what to assess.” Nate added that teachers should create online material as part of their work, as well.
- Daniel Mendes mentioned the work of THINK Global School, which is “a traveling high school” in which students live in four countries each year.
Some of these ideas move farther than others from traditional models, but most represent a specific desire that we provide students and teachers the chance to explore and be inspired.
Getting students to imagine different models is also something I tried, but found that many have difficulty thinking outside the box in which they’ve grown up. Admittedly, it’s their most significant area of expertise outside the home, and we all encounter challenges in breaking away from what we know.
Have you found ways to get students to imagine school in a very different way? Would you like to engage in a project in which students work towards much more innovative approaches to learning and share their ideas? If so, leave me a message via the contact form at my nonprofit’s site. I’d love to collaborate!