If I had a million dollars, I'd build you a school.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

An Ideal Student

A number of years ago, as part of the end of summer faculty meetings at my former school in New Jersey, we had a guest speaker. I have since forgotten not only his name, but most of what he talked about that day; but one activity we did has stuck in my mind ever since. We broke up into groups and were given a sheet of paper. We divided the paper into three columns labeled knowledge, skills, and character. He then asked us to picture our students as they were graduating from our school and heading off to college, and then to fill the columns with the things we hoped they had learned from their time in our school.

As the presenter had planned, most of our entries were pretty evenly divided in the last two columns. His message was clear. We are much more interested in who our students are, and what they know how to do when they graduate, than any specific things that they know.

Whether or not you agree with that overall message, the exercise itself seems like a good place to start when going about the project of building a new school. If our goal is the education of a student, starting from an image of what that student looks like when he is fully educated seems logical. So, over the next several posts, I will be presenting my own thoughts on what should go into those three columns, and I'm sure I will be constantly coming back to them as this project grows.

In the meantime, it is my hope that this blog will become not only a place for me to refine my own thoughts on what a school should do, but also a place of conversation between interested people. So please, contribute your own answers to the question. What does the ideal high school graduate look like?

1 comment:

dkzody said...

Your question, What does an ideal high school graduate look like?" is one we are grappling with right now in our district's career technical education area. The department was completely dismantled at the end of the school year (yay) and all stakeholders are being asked the question you are asking. By the end of the summer, and a series of meetings, we hopefully will have a clearer answer.

As for building a school, we are getting a chance to do that, somewhat, with Quality Education Investment Act. We are getting $2.7M a year, for 7 years, to do education differently. This next year we are restructuring the 9th grade, building a whole section on the school grounds for the freshmen. New teachers have been hired as well as taking some of the best who have already been doing the job. New curriculum is being developed and will continue to be as the school year plays out. I think it is very exciting; many on our campus do not like it.