Friday, March 22, 2013

A Generation of Solutionists

When touring 64 of the most innovative schools in the country, Grant Lichtman commented that if he could summarize his long road trip, it would be with one word, Dewey. He continued that in the face of an educational narrative focused primarily on standardization, the most innovative places remain resolved to provide students with a personalized learning environment, that while most rigorous, blends a deeper sense of success into the school and community culture. True success for these spaces of learning pushes beyond the cornerstone tenant of schools, scholarship, to the areas of leadership, citizenship, and stewardship. These three areas of growth for students allow for the democracy-building vision of Dewey to be a part of the schools again. Students that are involved in experiences and opportunities that support their growth as leaders, citizens, and stewards grow a deep connection to their community. They begin to see the invisible people and places of their community, and the ideas of social, economic, and environmental justice bubble to the surface. Dewey would embrace schools as incubators of change, and our society is clamoring for a fresh generation of thinkers and solutionists. Today’s high school, especially high schools with an appropriate sized student body, can truly embrace this democracy-building vision briefly described above. It comes with the right blend of project-based learning, technology integration, and excellent student work for an authentic audience added to a rigorous curriculum as the foundation. As school leaders, this vision should be our primary work.

1 comment:

  1. Love this post, Bob! Dewey is one of my favorite educational philosophers along with Freire, who is my favorite. In “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” Freire states that students who “are increasingly posed with problems relating to themselves in the world and with the world, will feel increasingly challenged and obliged to respond to that challenge” (p. 81). Both Freire and Dewey saw schools as "incubators of change," as you said, and the more students are given the opportunity to explore topics they care about and “support their growth as leaders, citizens, and stewards,” the more they will be able "to see the invisible people and places of their community, and the ideas of social, economic, and environmental justice bubble to the surface." Dewey and Freire both viewed schools as “incubators of change” and fostering leadership, citizenship, and stewardship in our students is the best way to reconstruct society and make a difference in the world. Thanks for sharing these transformational ideas!