(Building on this post.)
From a New York Times article on Anne Holton, Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine’s wife:
Ms. Holton later enrolled in Open High School, which allowed students to create their own curriculum and did not give grades. When asked to pick an activity for physical education, she took up clogging. When assigned to research her family’s ancestry, she presented not the names of distant gentry, but the names of slaves owned by her great-grandparents.
This a woman who eventually ended up at Harvard Law where she met her future husband.
But how can that be, that someone can go to a school that says to students “you create your own education” and doesn’t give grades can end up at Harvard? She must be special, right? That kind of school experience just can’t be for everyone, can it?
I’m sure it’s not.
But I wonder how many of our kids would flourish in that type of an environment given the chance. I wonder what would happen if that model was the great reset for education.
Look, no one argues that there are currently millions of kids for which the traditional system simply doesn’t work, doesn’t engage. Yet most of us see ideas as an Open High School as a risk to becoming “educated.”
Seriously, what if it were the other way around?
The way we think about what an “education” should be is just a current best guess at meeting standards and outcomes using methods that policy makers and businesses are heavily invested in and loathe to change. Happily, that guess seems to, finally, be up for more serious debate at increasingly higher levels. But it still dominates.
There’s a lot less risk than we think when it comes to doing education “differently” instead of better. The greater risk may be to stay the course.
(Photo Credit: SpaceX)
Tom Hoffman says
Also, we really could collectively be doing a much better job of pointing out that there are plenty of people who received these kinds of “innovative,” “experimental” educations 20, 30, 50, 75 years ago and have gone on to be successful and/or happy adults.
Mind Meets Game says
The education landscape is changing to more alternative means such as inquiry based learning, design thinking, and variations of collaborative-based learning. Although I may be a bit biased towards the alternative since I am involved in gaming theory myself, the current methodologies just aren’t working for k-12 schools or even many universities. It seems that hard data in the form of raw scores and efficiency standards became the paramount as we “left no child behind” and “raced to the top,” but as we see, such systems create inequalities and a fair share of unscrupulous activity. The victims really are the students. I feel much of it tries to appease standardized testing, a method that many feel is more about money than student success anyway. The lure was to make students attractive to colleges, especially chase schools; however, many that I have spoken with really don’t like these standardized tests. Moreover, some of the best universities out there have already taken alternative approaches. So, if you want your student to go to Stanford or Harvard or a great state school then the unconventional education may be the best way!
Mind Meets Game
Hazel Mason says
What I find interesting is that as we move to really start to examine “different,” there seems to be a propensity for those who are used to dictating what schooling should look like and what it should contain, to try and control “different.” Seems a bit counter-intuitive to me.
To allow different we need to have an inherent belief in young people being able to make good decisions. We need to be able re-vision the role of the teacher, because there still is one, and we need to realize “different” doesn’t mean lack of quality. A teacher who really understands the curriculum, not the content because there is a difference, can poke, challenge and question to cause students to really reach in the pursuit of their interests.
Unconventional education means an unconventional role for the teacher but can still mean quality.