Any parent can tell you how different their children are. And, it’s not lost on them that the best way to educate one is unlikely the best way to educate all of them. Take my two children, Tucker and Olivia as a prime example.
Tucker continues to be bored in school. He is either overly challenged or not challenged enough. ”Mom,” he said, “sometimes I don’t understand something in Math and I ask for help and still don’t get it and the teacher just moves on. And, other times I walk into class and know everything they’re about to teach us.” So, my son continues to put in a solid but minimal effort.
Meanwhile, Olivia loves school. Recently, she told me, “I used to not like school, but one day toward the end of last year, I decided to be like ‘Nora’ (a classmate of hers who does well in school) for a day, and I liked it. So now, I listen to the teacher and I like school.” I love that she loves school. (And, there is a small part of me that wonders if part of her switch was to one of compliance—being a “good girl.”)
My children, and every other child in this world, have different gifts, curiosities, passions, aspirations, and needs. My theory is that Olivia loves school because she is (now) good at it and loves helping others (maybe teaching is in her future). My son dislikes school because he has no outlet for his passions. For him, school carries no relevancy and is torturously boring. This begs a central question to anyone looking to make progress with our education system, “What kind of system will allow both Olivia and Tucker to excel?”
Last year, our team visited Avalon School, Iowa BIG, and The MET. Although each model was unique, I could see both Tucker and Olivia thriving at each one of these learner-centered environments. The reason? At each environment, learning was learner-driven.
The same can be said about our latest learner-centered profile, Innovations High School. Their story is a MUST read. Taylor Harper’s advocacy for her young learners shows a powerful example of how to enroll diverse community stakeholders in transforming a learning environment against all odds.
Tucker and Olivia, and all the young people across the country, are counting on us to spread the word about a different future for education. Your courage and leadership will allow this message to become immutable and system-wide transformation to become inevitable and irreversible. Thank you!