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Together with their community, students will use their wonderings to find their passions, and how they can contribute to make a better world

Photo of Andrea Stadler
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Written by

I am a.....

  • Teacher

Tell us about your idea

How might we create a relevant system that engages both students and facilitators to learn knowledge and skills together in the age of technology, allowing them to learn to their full potential, with opportunities to create a better future, a successful future for themselves and their community?

Imagine wanting to go visit a school because you want to know what the art gallery created by several students has to offer that day, or because you want to hear about the ongoing projects that you could help with, or maybe you have to assess a project you helped a student with, or just to drink at the student led caf. while listening to music composed by students?

Students will choose projects based on their level (skills and content they need to learn) as well as by interest. Projects will be designed by the student together with the advisory and an expert or two in the area. This will ensure that the student is getting a project based on their level that is challenging them to learn new skills and knowledge as well as to deepen old ones. By the end of their school career, they will have completed a series of projects (Real Impact Projects, Social Entrepreneur Project, Global Issues Project, Technology Project, Arts Design project, Music Project, PE program, Guidance program, apprenticeships program, to name most).

Throughout the project students will have on-going exhibitions / presentations where they will showcase what they are working on, what they have done, and what they will be doing. This is open to the public. It will give the student deadlines to look at with an authentic audience. The public will get to see what is happening in the school. The public can also be interested in being a networking point or an expert that might have ideas of how to help the student. Other students and advisors can view the presentations so they can get ideas for their own projects, to see what others are doing, and hopefully sparking curiosity in others.

Each student will be assigned an advisors or facilitators to guide them through the projects. Teachers can be approached when specific knowledge needs to be learned to help them further their project. Teacher and student together will work throught the process of learning and applying knowledge. 

Projects will be assessed by the advisor, the community, as well as the expert if there is one. The students will be assessed on the process, the skills, the content, and the product. The assessments would then award the student a badge for their skill. The badge will inform the student the skill they learned as well as the level (communication, presenting, developing or communication, presenting, mastering). The goal is for students to earn badges of mastery in multiple areas. 

Instead of grades, students will have a portofolio. Students' portfolio's include all their projects, work, and thoughts. It will also include a page with the badges earned so one can easily see their skill set and experiences. This will be the way students are evaluated throughout their career as a student. Due to the nature of these projects, there it is competency-based learning, disregarding the age, but looking into the maturity as well as the readiness of each student.

It will empower students with skills, curiosity, empathy, to pursue their passions and to contribute to making a better future. Instead of subjects in silos, students will be exploring and experiencing through varied projects and apprenticeships. They will be empowered with knowledge and skills to follow any passion throughout their life. Students will leave the school with a deep understanding of purpose and how they can contribute in the real world in a positive and empathic way. Something that I feel is lacking today.

The purpose of this education is to offer an autonomy approach to learning, that still has boundaries, is structured and systematic, and comes with proper guidance.

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

We live a life where we are passive consumers, we are told when to wake up, when to eat, when to learn, what to learn, when to have lunch, etc. not letting us to think for ourselves. This is why we are so easily manipulated by big companies to make the wrong choices for their own profits. We are not responsible consumers because we lack awareness. We constantly tell our students they are the future leaders that will make a change, but we fail to teach them how, so they will also fail. We throw around words like sustainability without really know what it actually means and understand how we contribute to the problem versus the solution. Schools have been their own bubble in the community and instead of working together they are parallel. In an era of information, it is crucial that we stop prescribing useless curriculum, but teach how to students how to find reliable information, understand and make meaning of the information, and finally act.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

In my fourteen years of teaching mainly in middle and high school, I have noticed that school has become an irrelevant tick in a checklist made by society and yet the checklist no longer matches the job market needs.

Through my experience as a teacher and student in the Swiss school system, I started seeing a benefit in apprenticeships and life skill classes. At the American School of Bombay, as a member of Research and Development, we questioned how technology should change learning and teaching, and we experimented with different solutions. During this time, I explored a variety of alternative school systems that have been implemented. 

Finally, I became part of the start-up world as I launched an app on iTunes. Seeing this world, networking with different people, and learning the skills, is when I concluded that school is it's own bubble that no longer works. 

I currently teach a design-thinking and service class using my ideas. I also offer a Saturday project class.

What region are you located in?

  • Western Asia

Where are you located?

Doha, Qatar. Doha is an exciting place to be as it is a "new" country, defining and creating itself as we speak. It is one of the safest countries with many resources and therefore could offer many possibilities.

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Naman Mandhan

Thank you for sharing your idea, Andrea Stadler and welcome to the Challenge!

I'm curious to hear if you envision this overhauling current teaching/learning methods, or if this might help supplement existing methods?

Rich Baxter I see some parallels here between your idea The Bootstrapping Checklist . Curious to hear your thoughts. 

Photo of Sarah Nethan

Hi Andrea Stadler - I'm Sarah, one of the Community Coaches. Thank you for inspiring us with your idea!

I'm really eager to learn more about your concept as you answer Naman Mandhan 's questions. Additionally, I would like to know what age group you are proposing this model for. How can this model be adapted for the current pandemic situation demanding remote learning?

Thanks! :)

Photo of Andrea Stadler

Thank you for answering Naman. What I shared are a combination of several schools that are currently out there. Should there be one type of school when we know that one size does not fit all? Maybe the future should be a variety of possibilities, this one being one of them. The existing methods try to implement these ideas, but when they do, with all their constraints (schedule, standards, reports, quality of teachers, etc.) these ideas are dumbed down and merely become a checklist and sometimes just PR/marketing.

I have realized that technology is a great way to gather information and to then dessiminate it, but so much of it for educaiton are bells and whistles for business purposes. Very little is really following the ISTE recommendations. This is why I believe that even schools with little resources could use the model and close the gap.

Being part of my school's current Virtual Task Force, you realize how much of what we teach is busy work versus learning. How much students rely on being told what to do versus self-discipline. These are things that have led us to where we are now and what needs to be left behind when we come out of this Pandemic.

Photo of Andrea Stadler

Hi Sarah! Good question. This is what I see for middle school / high school years. In order for students to do this they would have to have the basics of math, reading, and writing as well as some ideas of the world around them (science, social studies, arts, PE, etc.) Elementary we still manage to have many models that keep their curiousity spiked, even though research shows that it already starts to decline even then. However, it is in middle school and high school where subjects are taught mostly in silos and where they are learning what someone in a textbook company mandates and standards chosen by some random person up in the government... this is an outdated model that still has value in our society becuase it is the status quo, it still feeds in to universities, and the workforce, but we are not seeing the quality we need - and when AI comes around, it will be too late.

I tell my students that because they are the ones suffering through this system that makes no sense, they will be the ones who will make the change, but I wonder if then it will be too late, and plus I want to be part of the change now!