Students learned about the early 20th century by exploring antique cars at Massabesic High School in Waterboro, Maine this spring.
Here’s what I was talking about with the Teen this morning.
What if we gathered together a bunch of high school students interested in studying literature/writing/journalism and planned an entire education program from there? We would start with that passion and incorporate all the disciplines. For instance…
Literature: We could read and write various genres and analyze their conventions.
History: We could write historical fiction–and do the historical research necessary.
Math: We could talk about the biz of publishing, learn accounting, statistics, and maybe create some marketing or distribution algorithms. I’m unclear about algorithms but this sorta explains my idea http://adage.com/article/dataworks/algorithms-marketers/239460/.
Economics: Maybe we would create a “virtual” magazine and learn the ins and outs of publishing, sorta like those classes where students trade stocks, with all the learning implied in that kind of endeavor.
Social sciences: We could study sociology and psychology and philosophy to inform ourselves about character development and conflicts.
Science: We could do some nature writing/science reading and writing and learn about those subjects and/or incorporate what we learn into fiction. We could visit a lab and interview scientists (or better yet, go down to the science-learner wing or school and interview students in their lab).
Art: We could write about art and artists. We could look at paintings and sculptures for inspiration for new stories. We could practice art as a way of accessing different parts of our brain, stimulating creativity.
Health & Fitness: We could do some yoga and walking/running or any other form of exercise because authors need to get up and move to stay healthy and their minds working properly.
Industrial Arts: We could build bookshelves or maybe personalized writing desks.
Music: We could write music lyrics and learn some music theory while we are at it. Of course we could also participate in chorus or band.
Now….if I were interested in say, science, how could I create a similar program for the science-learners?
Math & Science charter schools are already creating this kind of learning environment…so why shouldn’t we create schools geared toward artists? Or philosophers? Or writers? Or athletes? (Actually, there is a school for skiers up at Sugarloaf called Carrabassett Valley Academy.)
What if we truly started with students’ interests and built programs around them? Video gaming? GREAT! Website design? Fabulous! Auto mechanics? No problem! Agriculture? Be still my heart.
For those kids who want to be college professors, academics, doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc, then a traditional liberal arts education might just be what they need. Fine! Create a classical academy school for them.
The point is, different learners have different interests, so why shouldn’t we have different schools or classroom clusters for them? This is not a new idea. Some high schools have created schools within a school similar to colleges within universities or majors within colleges.
What is the point of education, after all, but learning what you need to actually DO something? If you were a student again, wouldn’t this sound like fun?
Homeschool advocates already understand all this. Homeschooling is the ultimate individualized learning program.
Charter schools geared toward particular types of learners and interests are springing into life all over the place.
How does standardized testing and a common core curriculum match up with how and why students really learn? Isn’t this is a question legislatures and administrators might want to ask themselves as they move forward?
And what about employers? With the cost of college spiraling ever higher and student loan rates becoming prohibitive, maybe the economy should consider criteria for employment other than the ubiquitous college degree. Does an administrative assistant NEED a bachelors degree in business administration or could an office management training program do the trick? Does an entry-level library assistant really need a bachelor’s degree or even an associates degree? Vocational training, geared toward specific professions, makes much more sense to me. Couldn’t we have aptitude tests and on-the-job training? Apprenticeships?
I suspect it is time–past time–to radically rethink education and human resources. What do you think?
For further contemplation: