If You Started a School, What Would the Theme Be?

As I’ve been exploring the theme of Disruptive Innovation and its implications new-school for schools in the next 10-15 years, I have imagined that there will be opportunities for new schools to replace some of the schools that have not changed.  Over the weekend, I was thinking about what the theme of a school that I would like to work at would be.  I found this exercise surprisingly difficult so, in order to generate some brainstorming energy, I asked my twitter network.  Here are the replies:

  • gardenglen @alexragone My theme for a school “Digital environment promoting student inquiry and collaboration.”
  • ernestkoe @alexragone what a great question…the love of learning, as cheesy as that sounds
  • andrewjkatz @alexragone flexibility.
  • momcginn The theme would be Belonging.
  • agrill @alexragone collaborative spaces, good citizens and inquiry.
  • pgow @alexragone (1) Think it should be sustainability, although the word is getting a bit shop-worn. Maybe “dignity, equity, and continuity.”
  • pgow @alexragone (2) Lots of place-based teaching: thematic, interdisciplinary, skill-focused units; civic and social engagement as  possible.

As I was thinking about this topic, I thought about science, innovation, and invention.  I was not happy with any of those.  This is a difficult task, especially when thinking about changing a system that has been around for so long.  I  found myself thinking about the skills that students should have upon graduation, but those skills could fit into many of these themes.

So I ask you, if you could create a school, what would it’s theme be?

Phtoto from: http://flickr.com/photos/mirkogarufi/297698145/

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8 thoughts on “If You Started a School, What Would the Theme Be?

  1. When you asked that question on twitter this last weekend it got me thinking a lot about conveying a theme and the need for a consistent message or Mission Statement. After reading so many blogs, articles and books about technology in education, sometimes it’s good to step back and simplify goals. Thanks for reminding me of that! Is what you are looking for more than just a theme? Is it a mission statement? That would be an interesting wiki project for technologists to craft.

  2. The theme for my school would be lifelong learning. For me this encompasses skills, curiosity, and the inevitable change that we are all so intrigued about ourselves.

  3. My school’s theme would be taking initiative. Do you want to learn in a different way? Do you want to study a subject that isn’t offered? Do you want to use a tablet PC instead of textbooks? Do you want to teach 50 kids with another teacher instead of 25 on your own?

    If so, investigate the possibilities, draw up a plan, tell the right people, and let’s try it out.

    An important corollary is that you have to self-identify complaining. That is, I can still whine, but I have to follow it with something like “but it doesn’t upset me enough to change it…yet.”

  4. Aaron — What I’m really interested in is the theme for a new school. When I think of school, I think of math, science, history, english, foreign language and the arts. What I’m trying to say is if you redesigned the traditional high school, what would your theme be? Science Leadership Academy has the theme of science and leadership. I believe that the theme is the first sentence of the mission. XXX Academy is committed to develop scientists or inventors or XXX. Make sense?

    Jennifer — Lifelong learning is definitely key. I guess I’m struggling with how theme drives content.

    And Dave, as usual you challenge me to think beyond where I have gone before. Love the complaining corollary.

  5. Yeah, it totally makes sense. It’s really hard to narrow the focus sometimes for me because the theme has to encompass so much. I’m enjoying thinking about it. Thanks again. Great topic!

  6. Democracy, definitely. It seems that every grad school ed program is now about democracy and education, but I like the concept. Democracy as in participatory decision making, as in educational equity, as in civic responsibility, as in open content.

    Richard

  7. I’d use a theme of “natural progressions” as if one thing leads to another when we’re immersed in our intrinsic motivations and curiosity. That theme sets up each learner to begin exploring whatever captures their imagination and then see what comes of that direction as they delve into it. The theme calls upon the vast panorama of resources we now have available, while sends every student off in a different direction.

  8. i have been at watkinson school for nine years, and i love it. i actually wish i had gone to school here when i was younger (much!). seeing my children in public school and juxtaposing that with my independent school experiences….i would make a school built around relevance and applied learning, while also making sure that some of that application was about yourself (reflection). why am i or am i not interested in that? why is it hard for me? why does it make me mad, bored, excited. i see my 11 year old already checking out of exciting subjects because he can’t see why they connect to his world or his life. perhaps that relevancy could be bundled under an umbrella called “global citizenship”…not sure….just pondering. thanks for asking the good question.

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