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If I were to build a school from scratch, I would start at the top.
That’s right, at the top.
No longer would marks be the thing that determines what children and young adults get to do with their lives.
As long as university entrance is based on ranking children individually, we cannot create the innovative “EY to 12” learning spaces we need in 2016.
It’s insanity to judge based on the marks assigned by high school teachers.
Let’s create program entrance requirements that match the capacities required by the profession.
Other university programs can easily be completed through online community-based study similar to what I am proposing below for secondary schools. But the ridiculous cost of tuition and housing for a basic degree must change.
And what about colleges? Marks can no longer be the currency of program entrance.
Almost half of all jobs are currently at risk of disappearing because of robot technology.
How are colleges embracing this as an opportunity to become more relevant in today’s world? Are they agile enough to change from centres of knowledge transfer to places that embrace robotics and technology to allow humans to do greater things?
Once we can dispense with ranking children, we have the freedom to really become innovative with our thinking about schools.
Imagine leveraging the power of bringing people into a building every day. Dean Shareski first made me think of this when we were on a panel together.
Imagine what can happen when school becomes that building in the community where learning happens for everyone.
My school would welcome the community with open arms to model lifelong learning. It would be a place with resources – family services, a nurse practitioner, a community garden, library, food services, exercise facilities, device access and support for all.
For senior students who don’t require custodial care, I would model the school on the one in the movie, “Most Likely to Succeed“, where learning comes from collaborative projects, reinforced with more formal learning from the best teachers from around the world. It would be similar to the Inquiry Hub model that won the CEA Ken Spencer Award for Innovation last year. It is based on cross-curricular learning and conversation, with access to great learning in online environments to supplement the face-to-face opportunities.
First Nations students in remote fly-in communities would learn digitally alongside their peers because education opportunities, and access to pathways, would no longer be tied to geography.
We would use Howard Gardner‘s work on Five Minds for the Future as a basis for learning classical understanding, while building understanding through experiential learning and inquiry would be the norm.
Curiosity and Creativity would be respected and nurtured. Music education would be a priority for all.
Our youngest learners would be engaged in the current Ontario Early Years model that respects the rights of young people to learn, to self-regulate, and to be in nurturing, healthy environments.
Outdoor play would be part of everyone’s day. Sitting is the new smoking, and ADHD is diagnosed at epic rates. Activity is essential to health.
Makerspaces would be the norm. Children would not be sorted by date of manufacture. Physical and digital spaces would be seamlessly integrated, and tools would be chosen by what each child needed for personalized learning.
Educators would be properly educated for the important role they play in the lives of children. They would deeply understand knowledge building, constructivism, brain science and learning theory, and they would be encouraged to continue to learn, both with students and on their own.
Time for professional collaboration would be a priority.
This is not a model that ditches the idea that there are things all children should learn, but one that builds on that idea, because just knowing will not be enough for a meaningful life beyond today.
Above all, school would be a place for hope. The Finnish definition of equity would prevail.
A public education system “levels the playing field”. Everyone emerges with the same life opportunities regardless of parents or geography.
What do you think?
What do others think?
Check out the blogs here.
Pasi Sahlberg – What Makes Finnish Teachers so Special?