Rethinking Education in Arizona - Part 3 of 3
Conversation after conversation, I talk with educators, parents, and employers about their hopes and desires for our youth and almost without variation, the person across from me goes on about the skills and character traits he or she believes is necessary for our next generation of future leaders. We tend to agree that our youth today must learn much more than a foundational level of academic knowledge. Rather, students must develop skills like critical thinking and problem solving, and even more so the ability to communicate effectively, take initiative, be creative, demonstrate grit, etc. Yet, when we look at most of our schools today, we see students sitting in desks, passively receiving a standard set of information without questioning it, often told not to talk, leave their technology at home, and obey the rules. We are completely naïve to the disconnect and then wonder why we aren’t producing the desired results. In light of this, we have an opportunity to ditch the typical explanation of school and empower educators to start over. Or rather start from the end. Instead of starting with our default school model and asking how to do it better, perhaps we simply ask how might we design the best learning experiences for students in order to foster in them the skills and character that will best prepare them for a thriving future?
In recent years, several organizations have emerged to support learning innovation and design for a next generation school model. Organizations like Transcend Education, 2Revolutions, and 4.0 Schools are supporting highly successful school redesigns and new school models throughout the nation, but not currently in Arizona. Further, a handful of organizations, like LRNG, are connecting informal learning opportunities in cities to provide increased access for youth to develop relevant skills aligned to their passions and employer needs. Efforts like these in partnership with innovative school leaders focus on empowering students to take ownership of their learning, are highly personalized, and are producing great results for a diverse population of students.
New learning designs and expanded learning opportunities are possible with strategically deployed funding and a connected hub of resources. In partnership with a wide range of businesses and organizations, New Learning Ventures helps to provide the necessary development and growth support to foster a connected and collaborative ecosystem of promising learning opportunities in Arizona. Public district and charter schools, along with innovative independent schools can collaborate with each other in designing learning experiences that provide pathways for students to develop the skills and character that will truly prepare them for college and careers and meaningful participation in today’s society.
We envision a thriving Arizona economy with a talented and competitive workforce generated from highly effective and meaningful learning opportunities for children. By deploying the innovation capital necessary to develop and grow new models of learning, we can collectively enhance our ability to prepare students for a flourishing life. We invite all educators, parents, and community members to join us in creating the future of learning for Arizona.