The Ideal School (?)
In a tongue-in-cheek fashion, I recently commented on a friend’s Facebook post about having a great idea that he couldn’t share yet. Being a well-respected educator in my book who has very similar views to mine, I responded with a list of qualities of an ideal school I knew he would appreciate.
In thinking about that response, I began to wonder if it is possible to achieve ALL of those qualities in one place or is it just a utopian dream? I know all of us have our own qualities of an ideal school; many of us work in schools that have some of our ideal qualities in action (otherwise we probably wouldn’t be working there!), and almost all of us work tirelessly to achieve some element(s) of our ideal educational institution (please note that I don’t intend to equate “ideal” with “perfect” as an educational process is never perfect). Anyway, I thought I would post those qualities of my ideal school here. Below is the list of items I put in that response along with some additional qualities. These are not in any particular order.
- Authentic, project-based learning that creates challenges around real-world issues is the focus;
- Technology is integrated seamlessly without second thought and with robust funding and admin support;
- The development of 21st century frames of mind, approaches, and skills supersede content memorization;
- The classroom doesn’t have 4 walls;
- Thorough assessment and feedback occurs, but reflection is king and grades are an after-thought (or not used at all);
- Life-long learning is fostered;
- Teachers are encouraged to innovate and try new ideas/approaches without fear of affect on exam scores or repercussions from admin;
- Standards and benchmarks aren’t forced. Rather, students often work collaboratively with teachers to define the goals and big ideas of the learning projects.
- Subject area mash-ups (interdisciplinary studies) occur frequently and organically;
- Risk taking is expected, and failure is an expected outcome at times in the process;
- A sharing and collaborative culture exists;
- “School” doesn’t occur between 8am and 3pm.
What are your thoughts on this list? What would you add? What would you change? When and where can we get schools like this? Is this too ideal and impossible? If it is impossible to have all of these, which ones are the most important to have?