Saturday, August 14, 2010

A New Way to School

I'm excited about posting today for two reasons.  One,  I found that through my local library's web site I can access a wide variety of current and archived newspapers using PressDisplay.  This service also allows me to post articles I wish to share directly into blogger.  You'll see the result below.  (This would be a useful feature for classroom blogs where teachers wish to engage students in current news.)

School to try streaming students in Grade 2
The Vancouver Sun
11 Aug 2010

Choosing an area of specialization is one of the biggest decisions of a student’s academic life. Not least when they’re entering Grade 2. A new program at a Calgary area elementary school will soon see children as young as seven placed in more...

The second reason is that this article follows on the heels of a question Carl Anderson posed in a previous post:

"So, my question is, how do we provide learning environments that are both permissive and instructive, environments that harness the power of informal learning the network provides but also the guidance our traditional system is supposed to give our students? "

This new school is an exciting concept that allows students to take more ownership of their own learning.  I see it as a move away from the current lock-step system whose aim is to produce students with a rigidly focused skill set that stifles individuality in the name of producing a uniform workforce.

I think teachers who will thrive in this new kind of environment will have a passion for the subjects they teach and be able to pass that on to their students.  They will be experts as well as learners and they will model effective learning for and with their students.  They will understand that they don't need to know everything in order to help their students learn.

They will be fearless risk takers who also possess a good dose of common sense.  They will understand that evaluation is not grading regurgitation but should assess each student's ability to take knowledge and skills and apply them in new situations, with new problems.  

They will be good at collaboration and communication.  They will be able to recognize innovation and uniqueness and support those students who are innovators and creators.

So part of the challenge lies in encouraging current teachers to change the way they do business and part in training and attracting new teachers with passion who love the idea of mentoring learners.  A little trust and support at the senior administrative level would go a long way as well.   I know there are many teachers and schools out there experimenting successfully with new models,  let's hope the trend spreads.

No comments: