Fellow TransformEd blogger and co-author of Teaching 2030, Renee Moore, makes an argument in this recent post, Learning Unchained, for getting rid of class schedules and grade levels! I've heard Renee talk about this before, and, as jarring as this may sound, I totally agree with her. At the end of her post, she asks readers if we know of schools that have replaced these models with more fluid ones.
I thought of two NYC schools that are on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of teaching philosophy--extreme constructivist and extreme data-driven instruction. I cannot imagine either model being the optimal answer to Renee's question, but the juxtaposition is quite interesting!
I'm painting with gross generalizations about these schools here, for the same of argument, but I would certainly welcome clarification on the models from those who know better:
1. Brooklyn Free School: Kids determine the shape of their own education, literally choosing to show up and learn whatever they want, whenever they want, and how they want, with guidance from teachers, and rules about not infiringing on the rights of others. Sounds awesome for a certain kind of kid, but seems too loose for an entire school system. I could be wrong, though.
2. School of One: Based on the idea of personalized instruction, in response to instantaneous assessments administered and graded through computers. Kids are sorted based on mastery of skills as seen in these assessments and move on to the next skill only when they are ready. The reliance on technology to teach and assess a large group of kids seems like it could be a limiting factor here, though I know teachers do work face to face with small groups of students. Not sure students have any agency in determining what they learn or how they learn it, and the emphasis on individualized instructionmakes me wonder whether students get experience as members of a learning community.
But... could we get these two schools talking to each other?! Both models seem to be designed to address the same limitations of traditional schools. What if?
[image credit: overclock.net]