The governor said last night during his press conference that disruption is an opportunity for innovation. I could not agree more. This is the time for schools to reevaluate their values and decide what's important to them.
I have said for a year or more that I believe the one thing that will change education in the future and make a shift to a more flexible system would happen when more and more parents start working from home. In my mind, the more this happened, the more families would appreciate having their kids home with them, with flexibility to go on vacations, set their own schedules, and share their work by teaching and showing their children what they do each day.
Senate Bill 2186 was passed into law during the 2017 session. Very few waivers have been applied for using this new law. But now, during this uncertain time, imagine writing an emergency waiver for instructional time for all high school seniors in your school. In order to get their remaining instructional hours, they would instead create a project around the question, "What can I do to make a difference during a crisis?, do the project, and then reflect on it. This is unprecedented times. Let's do something unprecedented! Instead of figuring out how to make these kids perform worksheets at home through online learning and fretting over how we will grade them.
Imagine all the high school seniors in the state, working together to help their community, and not stressing out about how they will graduate. Some could start cleaning services. Some could work full time instead of part time and gain valuable mentoring from leaders during a crisis. Some could help older generations learn to work from home and troubleshoot technical issues. Some could spearhead neighborhood check-ins with sick or elderly. Some could take in healthcare providers' children, spending time reading, writing, and doing basic math with them. No doubt our young people are being affected by this. They could be defined by the "lack of" that is going on... lack of control, lack of certainty, lack of answers, lack of traditional educational structure. Or the class of 2020 could have an opportunity to stop memorizing test materials (that research has shown they are likely to forget) and take part in a truly inquiry-based, community impacting, life changing opportunity that could define their generation. I am hoping North Dakota and its educational leaders will at least give them the option.
Let's get away from focusing on instructional hours and time. It is time to empower our students and give them opportunities to make changes, not connect them to their devices for hours a day jumping through hoops. I continue to go back to the mantra that led me to starting my school... What do you value? I hope the governor gives schools an opportunity to reevaluate their values and a chance to change how they show it.
I often stress to our students during times of conflict, unease, or anxiety that the only thing we can control is ourselves. This means our next thought, our next action, and our reaction to what's happening around us. Even though everything feels out of control in our world today, let us not cling to the semblance of control by holding on too tightly to our traditional ways.
#TISValues #Projects #Passion #Peers #Play
Maggie Barth - Director and Founder of The Innovation School