I believe the traditional model of schooling needs to be revamped for the new world and to integrate the information we have learned about education in the last 100 years. One thing that High Tech High has done right is changed the start time for schools. Most high schools start at 7:30am and this is one of the largest factors that hinders student achievement. It is known that students, specially high school students have a different internal clock. High school student brain activity is particularly high in the afternoon and in the evenings. This is the reason why many high school students have difficulty falling asleep on time to wake up for school. On average students receive 4-6 hours of sleep when their bodies require 8-10 hours of sleep. Since students are chronically sleep deprived they are unable to fully function at school and often need information to be repeated. By shifting the start time of school to a later time, students can get the essential sleep that they need and will maximize class time efficiency.
In today’s education the concept of grades and standardized tests are in hot debate. Schools such as MET, High Tech High and Francis Parker focus on learning and not traditional accountability measures. These schools are able to design their curriculum around mastering skills and not passing a test. This is a concept that my school would integrated at the core. When discussing student learning, it is more important to understand what they learned and how they learned it over did they pass an assessment that was designed for one type of student. In clinical practice, I often witness curriculum designed upon a test or a particular set of concept topics veruses concept ideas. For instance in a unit on DNA, students spent more time trying to understand the molecular structure than they did learning how DNA has changed the world. It is very rare that a student will need to understand the structure of DNA in their life, but a student may encounter a genetic disease or consume genetically modified foods. I believe it is more important to understand how DNA is used today than how DNA is put together. In my school, students would be evaluated on a mastery level. Students would present a portfolio that demonstrated mastery of a specific skill. These skills would build upon each other and be based upon essential skills needed for 21st century life.
In my school, internships would be at the core of the curriculum. At the MET, students spend two days a week at their internships. I believe that this schedule helps prepare students for higher education. Most colleges require internship or volunteer experience, by integrating this experience into the curriculum students will be better prepared for college. In college, students are expected to have days of rigorous coursework but also to spend several days applying knowledge to a practical setting. Although internships helps students prepare for college, it also gives them a practical application of knowledge. Students are able to explore possible careers while participating in internships. Students are able to internalize knowledge and apply their learning in a relevant setting. Most importantly, internships connect students and schools to their community. By interning for companies in the area, students are able to physically explore opportunities that are available in their communities.
The school that I have dreamed of is now a reality. Schools like the MET, High Tech High and Francis Parker are my dream school. I believe schools should be designed with student needs in mind. Schools need to encourage mastery based learning for students. School is pointless unless you are able to master basic skills. Schools need to encourage projects and partnerships with the community. If students feel connected to their community they are more likely to be active participants. Students also need to feel connected to their knowledge. By participating in internships, students are able to witness their knowledge in practice. Schools should be designed with student needs in mind. This is why my dream school aligns with schools like the MET, High Tech High, and Francis Parker.