Imagine a completely flat and dynamic learning environment, unencumbered by walls or bureaucratic limitations, where student choice and teacher expertise work together to ensure maximum motivation and engagement for optimum innovation.
Students are no longer coming to school from 8 AM - 3 PM and moving between subjects like an assembly line, but rather travel through a developed program around a course of study that supports aptitude and interest.
Learning isn't assessed by tests or grades, but rather by authentic projects that come directly out of the learning or generated through the learning. Practice is as needed for every child and smaller ratios of learners to facilitators are used so that every student has his/her needs met all of the time.
Feedback is provided all the time in both formal and informal ways, in fact, it is mutually shared to reflect the relationships developed in the school. Teachers work together in this capacity as well, always demonstrating collegial learning to serve as a model for students. Doors are open and teachers are creating as well.
This learning environment is dynamic and welcoming; it begs creation and thought-provoking exploration among collaborative teams. Technology is available and used as needed to support the environment. Students aren't policed, but rather encouraged to demonstrate their individuality following whims of interest to generate endless possibilities.
Empowered students move through the day seeking out the resources that they need when they need them, rather than move from class to class. There is fluidity in how the learning happens and when breaks are needed, they are taken without punishment or being chastised. Students are respected in this environment as is the act of acquiring knowledge and skills. There is an evident and transparent purpose that connects to the lives each child leads.
It's not about productivity, but about depth of learning. The truest test of which is a student's metacognitive awareness and social-emotional growth. Bonds are formed in such a way where failure is merely a part of the process and growth inevitable from it.
Each day starts and ends with a period of reflection where students and facilitators consider their goals and growth and create strategies to continue to push ahead.
It's possible. All it would take is a growth mindset, a re-appropriation of funds, and an imagination. Learning is a lifelong proposition that should be sold as such. Not just discrete moments to be passed and moved through. It is ongoing lessons that show themselves in different ways and our readiness to receive them when they come.
If each of us could begin a little at a time in our individual spaces, consider what the critical mass would be.
What if we could imagine a completely different educational system that valued learning as much as it values traditions? What would that look like to you? please share
This post originally ran on my Education Week Teacher blog in June 2015