Old Schools in a New Era

Critical commentary on schools does not mean teachers and administrators are at fault. There are many good, even wonderful, aspects of existing schools. Students with all their variety display talents and abilities that astonish, particularly in extra-curricular areas. Adults recall teachers that changed their thinking and lives.

Teachers work hard and give of themselves for their students. Some are superb. They do their best with a system they did not invent and would change if given authority. Testing and national curricula hem in their creativity.

But that’s not good enough. I don’t mean we have to redouble our efforts with the existing system. I mean we must rethink schooling, its practices, and its results. We live in an era of greater expectations and promise. The conventional school model can’t be tweaked sufficiently, even with more money, to meet 21st-century requirements. I want transformation, not just reform!

The present school subject design was established 100 years ago and remains mostly unchanged. It assumes mastery of school subjects will assure a critical thinking, active citizen. That doesn’t work for most.

Many students in elementary but even more in secondary schools are disengaged and find their classes irrelevant to their lives. Some are pushed out; some drop out and many simply endure the day with little learning. The clock becomes the focus of attention.

Study after study shows that schools do not use modern principles of learning. The old school model must be replaced with transformed schools as described in School Transformation.

Classroom-based Schooling