Aspirations and Inspirations

The Learning Futures project held its second National Event this week, in London. Each of our partner schools attended, together with their Head Teacher, and we shared stories, data and experiences after 8 weeks of implementing their learning innovations, as part of the programme.

Two months in can quite often be a wobbly time, when you’re trying to do something out of the norm, in teaching and learning. It’s often entirely natural to question oneself, and wonder whether you’re doing the right thing. So, it was immensely reassuring this week to hear from the man who is CEO of possibly the best schools in the world. Larry Rosenstock talks fast. We gave him two hours – what he packed into that time was equivalent to a week-end masterclass. Most importantly, without knowing too much about our common project themes he highlighted all of them as being cornerstones of High Tech High’s success: Enquiry/Project Based Learning forms almost the entirety of their curriculum; Mentoring & Coaching is fundamental to student support; Expanding the Locations and Partners for Learning enables all of the learning to be authentic, and students and staff Co-Construct the learning throughout the place.

Their results are spectacular: almost every student graduates and enters college, even though their intake is mixed across all social classes and abilities. Such results have attracted some pretty big hitters too. Bill Gates has been a regular visitor in recent years and, for him, High-Tech-High proves that ‘you can work hard and have fun at the same time’.

The philosophy of the school is neatly summed up in this interview with Larry:

It’s clear that H-T-H encourage students to have the highest aspiriations, and Larry is unrepentant in judging the quality of the teacher by the quality of the work student’s produce. So no ‘laissez-faire’ attitudes tolerated here. But, like, the schools taking part in Learning Futures, the pedagogy starts from an acknowledgment that nothing can be taught to students, only they can learn. And they do that best when they’re engaged. Finding, in High Tech High, an exemplar of what we are describing as the ‘four P’s’ of engagement (hands-on learning which is placed, principled, purposeful and prolonged) has reaffirmed the faith our schools have in their students.

I’d urge you to visit the digital commons on the High Tech High website – I’m confident you’ll find it as inspiring an experience as listening to Larry Rosenstock was this week.

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