At this time of year I always wonder at our slavish adherence to an agrarian schedule for schools. Million dollar plants are closed for the summer. Well, not completely. We often have the athletic departments active with team sports.
Staff, from teachers to principals, find summer jobs. I once had a principal who had a summer company to paint houses. He hired his male teachers, and they had a good business. Some of his teachers made more on their summer jobs than they did teaching.
If Walmart and others can serve their customers 24 hours a day year round, why do schools continue to tie themselves into a rigid and ill-conceived obsolete schedule?
What if we had a year-round, open schedule school system designed for modern families? For example, the schedule follows the family’s schedule. The students are in school from 8 to 5 each day or from 10 to 6 or even assigned as it fits their individual learning plan (ILP). The school is open from 7 in the morning to 7 in the evening. Students are assigned based upon their ILPs. Teaching staff schedules are also flexible in order to cover the entire day.
In this projected school system, there are traditional classes as well as virtual learning at home and at school through social media. All year long students engage in special learning experiences built around project based learning where learners, working in teams, experiment with such things as actually constructing a robot to serve disabled individuals.
There is a LEARNFLIX* library where students access video and text materials and projects developed by other teams.
All learners are assigned resources and times that are consistent with their ILPs. Assignments are relative to their plans. And both human and technological resources are available as needed.
In such a system, facilities and staff are more efficiently used. Learners are issued a smartcard that records their achievements and keeps a running up-to-date record of their learning progress.
A school system such as this is not too difficult to develop, and if universally accepted, student transfers from one school to another would be simplified. It is time to discard the rigid agrarian schedule that is destroying our schools. It is inefficient and wasteful to allow our learning factories to be closed during part of the year. A year-round, open schedule system would revitalize schooling and encourage continuous learning.
I envision such a system providing a blended education with traditional classes, product-based outcomes, and team learning.
Families can schedule vacations year round. If they are visiting places like Washington, D.C., students could be assigned to share their experiences with classmates when they return to school.
Authentic based assessments will provide students with a portfolio of their work.
We need to radically rethink our models for schools to take advantage of blended approaches using social media. Learning takes place year round, and we need to reorganize schools to meet our modern needs. I envision teams of very young learners working together to solve problems in a product-based approach.
We had a NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND movement based upon an outmoded model of education. Let us renew our programs with a NO MIND WASTED program that uses flexible schedules and social media to provide a high quality year-round learning experience for every child.
* Author’s note: I have been talking about a LearnFlix or LearnerFlix, but there is not one set up as yet. I have talked to some people about establishing such a service. The Caption Film Library under Bill Stark has been referred to as LearnFlix but there is no established system as yet.
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