New Schools in a New Era

It’s a harsh reality, but several things must change for school transformation. These may challenge your paradigms about schooling.

  1. Most classrooms can be viewed as an anachronism. For example, in a seventh-grade classroom, achievement ranges over seven grade levels with any given skill area. That is, some students will be at the third-grade level and others at the tenth-grade level in a school subject such as reading. Beyond that, the range for the same student with interest in different subject will vary, say, math. Beyond even that, low-scoring students may be high-scoring in a subject area not regarded as important, such as dance or a not measured area, like leadership. There will continue to be classrooms but not required of all. With these factors, teachers confront an almost impossible task. Instead of a school comprised entirely of classrooms, personal learning plans and experiential education ensure deep enduring learning.

2. In transformed schools, teachers will be called facilitators of learning. The keyword, learning replaces teaching. The current trend, student-centered learning will be replaced with student-directed learning. Students will take on the responsibility for their own learning. consider the story of a boy who says to his friend, “I taught my dog how to talk.” The friend says, “Dogs can’t talk. Let me see him talk.” The boy says, “I taught him. I didn’t say he learned it.” Every teacher has experienced this phenomenon. Of course, schools will emphasize teaching and guidance–and lots of it. It’s just that it won’t be the dominant characteristic of schooling.

3. The present regimen of separate courses will largely disappear. Already, some schools have worked with interdisciplinary courses and competency-based learning. Passing traditional school courses doesn’t guarantee learning. For example, a student may graduate having passed many courses with a D-. One would assume that little learning had occurred,  but schools authorize graduation. Research indicates that many students, starting in the third grade, are bored every day and do not see the relevance of their studies. Student-initiated problem-based topics increase engagement, achievement of important skills, and understanding of key knowledge. While school subjects contain much valuable information, student study of topics of interest to cover the same information, though, in a different sequence but with greater permanence.

Teachers often fightd against progressive changes in their earlier years in school. Society expresses disappointment with student achievement despite the dedication and hard work of teachers. but, for example, the impossible expectation that secondary teachers would know each of their students in the five classes (150 students) they taught each day.

The book School Transformation describes different approaches and activities for instruction for greater learning.