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Nominate the Most Transformational Schools

Posted on | January 11, 2012 | Comments Off

Blogger Sam Chaltain, former director of the Forum for Education and Democracy, is collecting nominees for the most transformational learning environments in the world.  So far, there are 58 nominees, a list of which is on Sam’s site, and he invites additions.

His template for transformation comes from the QED Foundation: learning moves from classroom to community, organization from compliance to cooperation.  You get the drift.  If test score advancement is your singular goal, then your favorite school is unlikely to make the cut.

Sam’s list contains some of the places I would nominate, and I would add these three:

  1. The Avalon School in St. Paul, Minnesota.  The 187 students in this charter school learn through projects they design.  Their Congress devises the school’s rules, and their restorative justice system handles infractions and disputes.  The faculty (the executive branch of government) divides leadership roles including hiring, budgeting, and employee evaluation and discharge.
  2. High Tech High in San Diego County, California.  Another deeply project-based set of schools in which learning is based on the integration of head and hands, school and community, race and class.  Teachers design the curriculum.  Lots of highly engaged students, and a leadership team of education evangelicals.
  3. Scotland, the first country in the world to develop an educational intranet (a closed internet) for its schools, families, teachers, and students.  But the purpose of Glow, as the connectivity system is called, is to foster collaboration and the development of great learning experiences that fulfill the aims of that country’s national curriculum.  Rather than turn to publishers, the Scots turned to their teachers.

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Charles Taylor Kerchner is an Emeritus Professor and Senior Research Fellow at Claremont Graduate University. My daily musings appear in the blog. The archives of my EdWeek blog are available via link under the 'On California' head. Some of my photography can be seen by clicking on 'Gallery.' And numerous links to academic work and other research and commentary can be found by clicking on 'Projects.'

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