Our schools are built around a quantum packet, a “box”, formed with rigid sides that assume learning takes place in a confined physical space, during a defined period of time, along subject-based thought lines, via the transfer of knowledge from a teacher to a group of students. The boxes move along an assembly line calibrated at roughly one increment per year of age of the students in the box, while the teachers largely stay firmly rooted in the same location relative to the moving boxes.
Given freedom to think, most educators know this box is wrong, and are willing and able to design something much better. So here is the simplest, yet potentially least comfortable exercise I can suggest for school leaders and teams. Start over. Design great learning at your school with NO sides to that box, and see what you come up with. Don’t make this a year-long process; do it in an hour or a morning with as many people in the room as possible. And then ask yourselves why the heck you are still in a box.
I am going to do this with a school in the fall. It is an independent school with a stellar reputation, great leaders, a powerful vision, thoughtful pick-of-the-litter faculty, and lots of money. In other words, they can do exactly whatever they want and think is best. But they are still somewhat in the box. We will see if courage, confidence, and vision win out over uncertainty and inertia when it comes to not just thinking outside the box, but imaging a world where boxes never define who and what we are.
I love the idea of beginning with a clean slate. One of the biggest challenges schools face is trying to “tweak” the current structure rather than broadening the possibilities. I understand the challenges, but how can you argue with the obvious benefits.