Old Schools in a New Era

The critical commentary on schools does not mean teachers and administrators are at fault. There are many good, even wonderful, aspects to schools. Human beings in all their variety display talents and abilities that astonish, particularly in extra-curricular areas. Adult can recall teachers that changed their thinking and lives.

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

But, that’s not good enough. I don’t mean we have to double our efforts in the existing system. I mean we must rethink schooling, its practices and its results in totality. We live in a new era of 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!

Present school subject design was established over 100 years ago and remains mostly unchanged. It assumes mastery of school subjects will assure a critical thinking, active citizen. It’s not working 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.