Over the last few months, I’ve had the honor of meeting with our school district’s superintendent, along with the assistant superintendent of elementary schools and the director of technology. These intelligent, brave individuals and I have been discussing what it means to provide a 21st century education to our community’s students. We’ve been considering the possibilities of the future, trying to look at our current system with fresh eyes both for what it does well and what it could improve upon. We’ve allowed ourselves to dream a little and consider trying out a fresh model in a new planned elementary school.
What I respect most about our stalwart committee is their commitment to community involvement; our first step forward is to engage the larger community to ask them their vision for education. And this is where I come in. During the next three weeks, I’ll be running a series of 2-3 hour listening sessions: two groups of elementary kids, one group of middle school kids, one group of high school kids, one group of parents, one group of teachers, and one group of administrators. I’ll be asking them to participate in our dreaming process, inquiring: if you were the supreme boss of your (or your child’s/student’s) education, how would you do it? If you had no guidelines, no rules, no limitations whatsoever, what would it look like? The idea isn’t to ultimately throw away accountability, but to allow session participants to dream without boundaries, and to find the over-arching themes of their ideal educational paradigm.
I am thrilled to be facilitating these sessions. There’s nothing that makes me happier than hearing intelligent people wax philosophic on education. To get the perspective from individuals aged nine all the way up to teachers and administrators is going to be such a learning experience for me. Will they dream up a vision similar to my own, where students get a say in their educational plan, schoolwork is project-based and relevant, technology is integral, and success is measured more by engagement, portfolio, and deep understanding than by a letter grade? I don’t know. I can’t imagine they’ll stick with the status quo. But I’m fascinated to find out. My job in all this is to ask questions and record – not to share my own opinion – and I commit to my readers here to remain open and objective. Stay tuned for the outcome.
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