The discussion about educational choice is usually accompanied by innovative education techniques and learning that differs from the norm of the typical classroom. Tech Insider, a digital publication, recently featured 13 of the world’s most innovative schools. The United States is ranked 17th behind other developed countries in education; however, six of the 13 schools are located in America.
America has been attached to the same public school system for many years, but it is finally being recognized that the system does not serve all students in the same way. Children’s learning styles are as unique as they are, requiring some students to need more specialized curriculum and others more hands-on learning.
These innovative schools featured in the article all have their own special characteristics, but the one thing they do share in common is putting the students first. The schools have designed curriculum around the students’ learning needs, allowing students to work in specialized fields of study and at their own pace. Teachers serve as mentors and guides but don’t offer the same full classroom instruction that most readers are familiar with from public school settings. Students learn to question and harness their enthusiastic curiosity in order to learn and digest information.
Contrary to what many believe, students are thriving and excelling by using these innovative learning models. A school launched by IBM in New York called P-Tech gives high school students a new lease on the idea of college, focusing heavily on STEM fields and allowing students the opportunity to complete real-world internships and gain an associates degree over a five to six year learning period. However, the first graduating class completed its course of study two years prior to its estimated finish date. “P-TECH is transforming high school,” IBM’s Stanley Litow, key architect of the P-TECH model, tells Tech Insider. This offers students “a clear pathway from school to career, giving young people options that they could not imagine, and directly advancing the nation’s economy.”
At first glance, Carpe Diem School may look like an office building, but students each have their own cubicles where they assist in designing their learning structure and complete online course work. “Carpe Diem-Yuma, in Arizona, outperformed every public school in the county on the Arizona Instrument for Measuring Standards (AIMS) test four years in a row. Average proficiency was 65%. Meanwhile, Carpe Diem’s was 92%.”
Every student is different and while these models work for some children, more traditional models of education are a fit for other groups of students. The point is, “in the land of the free” we need more innovative education models. Parents need to be empowered with the freedom to find the right learning environment for their children. Only then will we see true success and children reaching their full potential.