The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

Sanity in Education At last!

on August 19, 2015

Not long ago three respected university presidents wrote a commentary for our local newspaper, The Oregonian, suggesting that the high schools of the future need to be far different physically from those today. Under the provocative headline,“It’s Time to Throw Out the High School Classroom,” they assert that existing school buildings no longer fit students’ needs and will become more unsuitable every year.  Interestingly, their call for a new type of high school is based on more than the size and structure of current classrooms and lecture halls; it is also based on what those facilities imply about the essentials of teaching and learning.

The writers believe that the roles of both students and teachers have changed in recent years and will change more in the future. Although they cannot describe those new roles precisely, they feel confident about the directions in which they will move. Below are their predictions:

“The days when teachers imparted their knowledge to the students, seen as empty receptacles, are long gone.”

“Teachers will have to be guides, interpreters and access points to the vast and varied sources of knowledge…around the world.”

“Schools need to be reimagined …as places for gathering, collaboration and exchange.”

“More learning will be self-directed and draw on information and knowledge far beyond the teacher and the school.”

“Experiential learning, both inside and outside of school, will become much more important”.

“Students will need space designed for hands-on construction or   manufacturing…or running a micro business or social enterprise.”

“Some (students) will work in a collaborative study space on a group project.”

“And some students… will be out getting practical experience.”’

Reading this commentary I wanted to open my window and shout, “A better day is coming!” to the world.  My only quibble with the authors is that they neglect to suggest similar changes for elementary and middle schools. Younger children can learn to read, write, do math, plan projects, and think independently and creatively in organizational structures and processes much like those proposed for their high school counterparts. They may need only a bit more guidance and support from their teachers.

Finally, I want to name the heroic university presidents who are thinking and speaking far beyond the banality of The Common Core Standards and the insanity of America’s testing regime:

Joe Robertson, President Oregon Health and Science University

Melody Rose, President of Marylhurst University

Wim Wiewel, President of Portland State University

I congratulate them, and you should, too!

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