Classic Skunk Works are hidden from curious eyes and ears; not so in our new world of connected educators! I had a great discussion with a young teacher, Aaron Baldridge at the Townview Magnet Center High School in Dallas, a unique setting where six public magnet schools are housed at one location. Aaron is a science teacher, but in thinking about what would be truly meaningful for his students, he decided he wanted to teach a class in “things that the students are really going to need when they leave school”. Through a common friend he ran across my book The Falconer , and he is getting ready to start teaching this new course in a couple of weeks. During our long chat on the phone it was pretty clear that he is going through nearly the identical thought process that I did nearly 15 years ago when building my Falconer seminar.
This is a major and exciting undertaking and we will follow it closely. Townview is a large public school; Aaron’s home unit is a science and engineering magnet. His principal listened to his ideas and told him to run with it, marks of true leadership in a Management 2.0 world. His course will focus on questions rather than answers, student development and co-ownership of knowledge creation and learning process, developing skills as systems thinkers, and collaborative, design-oriented project learning.
I have urged Aaron to set up a student-generated blog to keep us all up to speed on how this pilot develops. I hope they will also set up a class Twitter account so we can share in student feedback at a more organic level. I have offered to Skype in to the class when appropriate, and imagine he will invite others to as well. We can all share in a real-time watch-and-collaborate. Most importantly, I have put him in touch with two masters of synergetic teaching, Bo Adams and Jill Gough, creators of Synergy 8, a revolutionary experience for middle school students. They will give Aaron a leg up on how they create true student ownership and engagement of real world problems as he pushes his high school seniors to engage their own worldviews and passions in ways they never have in the past.
Bravo Aaron, bravo Townview! I look forward to visiting with you in December when my Journey of Learning takes me through Dallas!
Grant, thanks for connecting Aaron’s course design with Synergy, Jill, and me. I am really looking forward to learning with this new venture. Aaron can also connect with Bob Dillon in St. Louis, where there are two more educators piloting a Synergy-esque course. I’ll share that with Aaron at our 2pm call.