Prompted by Shelly Blake-Plock's post about revolution over at Teach Paperless, I've decided to try give shape to my vision for education. Plus it will keep me from posting a War and Peace size comment on his blog. If I ever get the opportunity to start my own school, it would look something like this: student centered, community driven, project/problem based, and 100% differentiated.
One key element is seeing this vision come to pass is the implementation of an apprenticeship model. Grade levels where EVERY student has to move up at the end of a nine to ten month cycle do not exist. Not to mention the fact that if a student isn't able to move up at the end of the cycle he has to wait another TWELVE months for the opportunity to move up again. Instead of grade levels, students just move to the next topic or skill.
The activities (or lessons if you prefer) would center either on completion of a project or solving a problem that requires the use of the current skills and topics being studied. People, like parents, with real live jobs relating to these issues can serve as mentors, guest speakers, and knowledge resources. Students would be able to choose which problem or project they wish to complete based on their interests.
Gone also are the needs for standardized testing and the various abuses of the proficiency data relating to teacher and school evaluations. Are students growing? Are students moving forward? If not, why? What are the forces outside of school that either hinder or prevent movement? If so, what are the important factors that need to be measured at the moment for that student?
How is such a vision community driven, beyond the use of guest speakers, etc.? Community is built into the school. Students help one another. Collaboration is encouraged, in fact integrated into everything. Projects and solving problems that benefit the community outside of school are the norm. These projects don't have to meet curriculum goals either. They can be done "just because".
Let's do it.