January 11th, 2012

What Qualities do “Bold Schools” Share?

First, let me thank everyone who commented and Tweeted examples of “bold schools” over the last few days. Very much appreciated, and over the next few weeks I’m planning to dig into the list and make some connections and inquiries around the learning that’s going on in those places. Meantime, if you have any other ideas for schools that might be worth checking out, I’d invite you to add them to the doc

Over the past month or so, I’ve been trying to come up with some “qualities” that might help separate a “bold” school from an “old” school. Actually, much of this whole effort stems from a similar search a couple of months ago by Sam Chaltain to find “the world’s most transformative learning environments.” (His list is a great starting point as well.) Sam decided to use the QED Transformational Change Model to use as a benchmark, and while I like the general tenor of the qualities listed there, I’m hoping to focus it down to a more manageable list.

So, I’m going to offer out the following with hopes that you’ll chime in with reactions, feedback, push back, and ideas toward creating a clearer picture of how to describe schools that really are trying to move toward a technology-rich, student-centered, inquiry-based learning practice that effectively prepares kids for the required skills and dispositions and realities of the world today and yet also prepares them to pass the test and satisfy the current expectations of parents and policy makers. Places, importantly, where those two things are not mutually exclusive ideas. 

So, with a minimum of description, I’m thinking "bold" schools are:

1. Learning Centered - Everyone (adults, children) is a learner; learners have agency; emphasis on becoming a learner over becoming learned.

2. Questioning - Inquiry based; questions over answers

3. Authentic - School is real life; students and teachers do real work for real purposes.

4. Digital - Every learner (teacher and student) has a computer; technology is seamlessly integrated into the learning process; paperless

5. Connected - Learning is networked (as are learners) with the larger world; classrooms have “thin walls;” learning is anytime, anywhere, anyone.

6. Literate - Everyone meets the expectations of NCTE’s “21st Century Literacies

7. Transparent - Learning and experiences around learning are shared with global audiences

8. Innovative - Teachers and students “poke the box;” Risk-taking is encouraged.

9. Provocative - Leaders educate and advocate for change in local, state and national venues.

I want to delve into each one of these in more detail, and my hope is that as I visit schools this year I’ll be able to connect these ideas to stories and practice that make them come to life. 

But for now, what do you think? What am I missing? How else might you describe a “bold school” as I’ve defined it above?

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    This is excellent groundwork! You might add “Collaborative” to the list Will has provided. This would be the practice of...
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Welcome! I'm Will Richardson, parent, educator, speaker, author, 12-year blogger at Weblogg-ed and now here. I'm trying to answer the question "What happens to schools and classrooms and learning in a 2.0 world?" Best selling new book: Why School?s...order now!!

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