What if schools became the actual learning and innovation hub of the community, rather than an island where students and teachers go to download subject knowledge?
I recently visited a school that is thinking of renovating some existing space, or creating a new building, modeled along the lines of the growing number of enterprise incubators that provide space and opportunity for diverse groups of people with a wide range of ideas, passions and backgrounds to connect and work. We know that THE key to creativity and innovation is connectivity, yet our schools remain isolated and walled off from most of the rest of the world. What if, rather than dropping students off and leaving, some parents stayed, worked, supported, and shared? What if community groups found a place to meet in exchange for including our students in some of their concerns and activities? What if large companies set up small satellite operations within the school, allowing students to intern without leaving campus and allowing employees to co-teach a class one hour a day? What if students interned with start-up companies, a symbiotic exchange of ideas, labor, and experience? What if we re-purposed our libraries to act as innovation centers, not just a makerspace where 3D printers sit next to boxes of tape and Lego’s and stacks of rarely-accessed books?
Yes, there are real safety and security concerns; in some communities school is the only safety zone our students have and we can’t allow a dangerous environment to threaten that sanctuary. But where we can overcome this obstacle, let’s do it. We talk about creating students with global awareness; we can start doing that right on campus by inviting the community in, not for a day of show and tell but for a permanent presence of true community. Is this doable? Heck yes. Please share examples where this is already happening so others can follow the model!