Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Improve Student Success by Setting Them Free From Outdated Time and Space Constructs

We're well past the time of the industrial model yet everyone is still set in the same old way of doing things at work and school even though it clearly makes no sense at all. Let's start with school. While many openly admit that they know school is not what is best for their children, parents often need to send their children anyhow because of the free babysitting services it provides.  Therefore, for primary students the early start and after school become a necessary evil.  However, once children become more independent in their teen years their is no reason to stick to this outdated construct. In fact, there is plenty of evidence indicating that due to their circadian rhythms teens perform poorly at the very hours most school occurs.  Why not implement some simple options like having independent study each day that the child can engage in first thing or at the end of the day, and even have the option to do it inside or outside of school?  Why not give teachers the same flexible scheduling option as well? Many know that the school bus schedule has a lot to do with it, but 1) not all kids take the school bus 2) resourceful parents, teens, and educators can help figure transportation options out.

As long as we're talking about schedules, we should also reconsider whether responsible teens need to be physically tied to a building all day.  Let's face it.  Lessons can be delivered easily via YouTube or Podcasts and support for students can be provided through personal learning networks or Google Hangouts if when/necessary.  Everyone going at the same pace through the same content in the same place is an unnecessary throwback to the industrial age.  If you're thinking not all kids have equity and access, stop.  Schools need to help figure this out.  I was doing this more than a decade ago in a low income school in Central Harlem. We need to ensure every kid who needs it has a place to go to access the internet.  Connect with business, community centers, mentors, parks.  If you are completely unresourceful, there's always school if the students and adults can't figure it out...but I bet given the choice, they would.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post.  Why Working 9 - 5 Ain't the Way to Make a Livin.  
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