What Would Schools Look Like, If Students Designed the Schools?

Independent 4 As you watch this video, think about what could happen in schools, if adults got out of the way. 

You’ll hear students say things like,  ”A subject comes up that I don’t know about, and instead of glossing over it,  I truly find myself thinking was is that about? I could learn about it! I’m finding questions in everything.” And “We learned how to learn, we learned how to teach, we learned how to work.”

Of course, it’s easy to discount these kids as atypical. Marginalizing them is far easier than wondering why other high school students are stuck doing worksheets.

For more information on the project and associated lesson plans for students see:  ”Independence Day: Developing Self-Directed Learning Projects


3 Replies to “What Would Schools Look Like, If Students Designed the Schools?”

  1. Thanks for sharing this great, important video, Peter. So much to notice and be encouraged by: The fact that it was a Mom who set the challenge (rather than telling her son to buck up and just do what his teacher tells him to do); that thoughtful, caring teachers and administrators in the building are finding the experience to be not just a productive one for the students but transformative for their own understanding of effective teaching and learning; that the students have built reflection in so fully to the process. I love how when the camera first goes into the room, it looks like a set from The Wire: A space where really knotty problems get unraveled. Great stuff.
    Now that you’re a Portlander, you’ll have to take the time to go check out some of the schools here that are helping kids take charge of their learning. Two great places to start are Opal School (in the Children’s Museum) and Trillium. What the video reveals, though, is that great experiments are taking place in hidden corners of many schools, unbeknownst to the outside observer.

  2. Wow! I have often wondered at how a small district, such as the one I teach in, could create an “alternative” school. This idea goes beyond reaching struggling students, but students in general who struggle with typical boxed education. I plan to share this video with all the educators I know. What a powerful example of students taking the initiative without a teacher moderating the learning.

  3. Matt and Victoria,

    A belated thanks for your comments (been visiting the grandkids… where does the time go!). I appreciate the tip on the Opal and Trillium – will check those out!

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