My Vision of School

I came across  these extracts from an assignment set to students at the Science Leadership Academy (SLA). SLA is a High School in Philadelphia which opened in 2006. Students were asked to present their vision of school, following the high-profile education speech given by President Obama in October. The thoughtful responses to this challenge does these kids great credit. Where one might have expected knee-jerk responses, their views are considered, balanced and sensible. In many ways, they are covering similar territory – and reaching very similar conclusions – to the students from the Harris Academies, taking part in the Learning Futures programme.

Why are we so afraid to ask kids to design their preferred learning environment? Why do we always assume that they won’t take such a task seriously, or that they’ll come up with unrealistic plans?

Perhaps, it’s just the company I keep, but these days I increasingly get the sense that we already know what the core ingredients of great schooling should look like: small sizes (300-400); inquiry/project based learning, which is relevant, responsive to students interests and the world they’re inheriting; assessment which recognises skills as much as knowledge; opportunities to learn in local communities and businesses; collaborative, mentored, constructivist learning approaches and democratically run governance. Spectacularly successful examples of schools based on these principles exist in the UK and all over the world. Yet it seems like policy makers and the media aren’t even willing to consider their own visions of schooling, beyond the parameters of the literacy/numeracy/testing clamps. Any sense of urgency in radically redesigning schooling gets swamped by a fear of straying too far from the experiences we all had (and most of us hated, by the way) when we were at school.

So it’s heartening to see SLA’s young principal, Chris Lehman in full, passionate, flow in this  video clip!

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