If I had the funds and the opportunity to start my own school, it would look nothing like the type of schooling you and I went through. You would not see desks lined up in rows with the teacher up front being the all knowing master of the material. Ken Robinson in his TED talk discusses this old “industrial” form of education. With the modern student this does not work. Robinson discusses how today is the most connected and interactive time period in history and rather than embracing it, teachers and schools expect students to sit in straight rows and listen to a boring teacher.
The most noticeable thing in my school would be every student would have a computer or tablet to use to take notes and do in class activities. It would look much like the classroom Larry Cuban describes on his own classroom blogs. Students would walk into class, get their computers out and the teacher would have the agenda on the projector or some whiteboard in the room. Students would not have to be at the same point in the lesson. Rather, they would move at their own pace with the teacher providing supplementary support as needed. The teacher would no longer be the all knowing center of knowledge but a sort of “teammate” in the learning process. Their responsibility would shift from content delivery to inquiry organization. The job is to frame the problems in a way where students are asking the right questions to answer along the way.
By doing this we are in agreement with a lot of the things advocated for by George Couros in his book The Innovator’s Mindset (2015). He tells us that we should have students discover the problems so they can then ask the right questions and then solve the problems. In my school students would be given broad concepts and then be asked to create their own questions to answer and then learn. The school would also focus on the growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. Couros (2015) tells us that the best and brightest students come from teachers who believe they can grow. My school would have no tracking of any sort. Students would be in classes with people from every SES level, race, gender and intelligence level. In life we are never placed with people of our same ability so why have our schools been set up the same way? The great thing about no tracking is students learn to develop and thrive in a community that embraces diversity rather than uniformity.
I realize a school like this would be hard to create. However, my classroom next year will focus on many of these ideas and I cannot wait to see how they turn out in real application.