A School in the Blue
I have often thought school could be so much more than it is now. As i watched Sugata Mitra's TED Talk, I was very excited by his call-out of the present state of schools as being antiquated. The whole system was created in a pre-Information age era and is simply not sufficient in our world. This problem has often led me to dreaming of a school that was...more! As Krissy Venosdale stated in her blog about her dream school, this is a DREAM school so i will not fret over the details and specifics of actually starting a school. Now on to the fun part!
What Would It Be?
I have a passion for the water. I love swimming and being out in the majesty of the ocean. That is where it would be, a school in the blue. Two islands only accessible by ship. One island would be a 9th-12th grade boarding school while the other would be the home of a magnificent university. Despite being an island the schools would have access to fiber optic internet connection and some of the most top of the line computers and technology. Technology is vital to learning in our world today, but this school is not just a technology school. The whole point of this school would be to use technology to learn about the world and also appreciate the world by experiencing it. (Hence the nautical location) The facility would have as much natural lighting as possible and completely run off of green energy. The technology college of the university would be like no other, spanning from art and media of movies effects and video game design to cutting edge of polymer science and medical and agricultural technologies. Technology studies would prosper here while the students and teachers would still experience mother nature at her best. The liberal arts college would be a thing of wonders, an educational experience like no other. As history, social studies, and culture have a special place in my heart, this department would be very special. The university would be home to a world class archive and beautiful library with passionate historians and literature/English professors. My dream school would have a very unique focus on culture. A great way to learn about the culture of a people is through their food, and my dream academy in the blue would have its very own culinary college. Food is so important and so many people in our world today have lost sight of what good food is and how important it is. A symbiotic relation would exist among the university as the culinary school would get ingredients from agricultural science department and all the campus would enjoy the delicious outcome. Finally one aspect I am very excited about is the sailing courses. Very few things excite me more than the idea of grand adventure sailing the seas in a beautiful ship. All of my students would have the opportunity to experience such an adventure. In these courses not only would students learn how to sail on a ship (a sail boat...masts, sails, rigging and all!) but these would also be classes. The professor/teacher (these classes would be available at the university and grade school levels) and students alike would work upon the ship doing all their duties to operate the ship while the whole experience is simultaneously a class. Some of these courses would be social studies courses in which you learn about the history/culture/language of a place while you sail there! Studying abroad is an amazing and rewarding method of learning and these sailing courses would be perfect for that. Learning is exciting, and all people not just kids need something to help them learn that. I would love to see this dream institute of mine become reality.
What I Want My Students to Know
I want my students to know that learning can be exciting and that they do not have to fit into a cookie cutter of something that society expects them to be. I also want them to know that history is more than just dates, that its a study of people and their lives! I want them to be excited about things played out to make the world we live in today!
What I Want My Students to Be Able to Do
I want my students to be able to use technology efficiently across many platforms. Sugata Mitra's views on what children can do with problem solving through technology is very interesting and I am excited about his school of thought. I would be teaching older age ranges than what he was working with with the Hole in the Wall experiment but that is of no consequence as technology should be available for all age ranges to work with. That being said i would also want my students to be able to hone their listening abilities and get a lot out of lectures.
My favorite method of learning is through listening to lectures from passionate teachers. Learning history through lectures and experience has always been my favorite and I would do the same. Telling the students the grand stories of history through lecture and sometimes being able to bring them to the place where history was made is how I teach my students. Also reading great books and having discussions is amazing way to build understanding. All of this could be done during the sailing courses at my dream school in a setting not available anywhere else!
For teaching history, maps are a great tool. I would certainly use maps and other images while giving history and other social studies lectures. Students' personal iPads would be great tools for taking notes and organizing information during lectures. Having amazing articles and images at their finger tips at any time during classes would be extremely beneficial. Laptops would be another tool that would aid the students greatly when it comes to research for topics. Films and videos are also a fantastic tool for the classroom. And among all the technology one cannot forget books! Books are still great tools for teaching, especially history.
Student's Role in Class
While the student would need good listening skills for lecture, their roles would still be active in the class room. Active participation in class discussions on films, videos,books, and lectures is key. Conversation is a great facilitator of information and understanding. I would also encourage my students to strive for adventure and experiences outside of the classroom. To always be learning, that is key.