It's time we did school different
My response is not a random list of ideas for young people who don't like school. It's a list of the different types of models, concepts, and ideas that I've learned about over the past four years after recognising that the education system (specifically in Australia) was not supporting my three children to thrive.
Over the past ten years, each one of my children has grown more and more disengaged in school and they all don't understand why they have to go. They like school for the social aspect and the opportunity to do extra-curricular activities. But each of them hates the learning and curriculum they are forced to do. Their daily learning schedule is not personalised in any way (even if the schools say it is) and the current system of mass education is nothing more than a one-size-fits-all model that is not preparing this generation of young people for the future of work.
(rant over.....for now)
1. Project-based Learning
Many experts and educators promote Project-based learning (PBL), plus there are more and more schools that are either wholly PBL or integrating it into their curriculum. I do see a problem in much of the PBL being constrained by the command and control limitations of the current education system. In its true form, it should allow young people the full freedom to discover their genius, take action in their community, and find a purpose.
2. Acton Academy
I recently listened to a great podcast with Jeff Sandefer, the co-founder of Acton Academy, and Dr Jordan Peterson that covers why Acton Academy was started, what it offers as a new approach to schooling and what young people experience - How to Educate Your Children | Jeff Sandefer | EP 336 - YouTube
3. Get clear on "What is School for"?
Different people have different perspectives on what school is really for. Most believe that it's only for preparing children to get a job :(
A great starting point for the conversation of "What is School for?" is Seth Godin's manifesto: Stop Stealing Dreams - I highly recommend anyone interested in re-imagining education gives it a read.
4. Big Picture Learning
Unfortunately, the state I live in Australia is the only state that doesn't have a Big Picture Learning school.
I like that their model is based on putting each student at the center of their learning and that their interests, talents, and individual needs are the base of their learning program. I also like that learners spend time in the community with mentors and that tests are replaced with exhibitions or demonstrations.
5. Home Schooling
I gave homeschooling a shot last year with my eldest son. We lasted six months before realising it wasn't the right solution for us. I can, however, see that homeschooling could be an excellent alternative for other families who want out of mainstream schooling. There must be something positive about it because from what I've heard, many countries have experienced a big increase in the number of families who have registered their children to be homeschooled (home education rates across Australia increased rapidly in 2021, with one state recording an almost 50 per cent increase in registrations).
I wasn't quite sure what I thought of "unschooling" when I first learned about it, but now I wish I could have unschooled my children from the start.
Unschooling is a philosophy and practice that emphasizes self-directed learning and child-led education. In unschooling, children are encouraged to learn through their own interests and curiosity, rather than following a predetermined curriculum or set of learning standards.
Unschooling does not involve formal instruction or testing, and parents or other caregivers act as facilitators, rather than teachers. Children are encouraged to learn at their own pace, and the focus is on developing a love of learning rather than on achieving specific learning outcomes.
There are lots of great resources out there for families considering unschooling. A favourite blog/podcast of mine is Stark Raving Dad (starkravingdadblog.com)
7. 1000 Hours Outside
I recently learned of "1000 Hours Outside" and quickly imagined the ripple effect it would have if more young people spent an extended amount of time outdoors in nature.
The movement was influenced by Charlotte Mason, a British educator who lived from 1842 to 1923. She had many philosophies about children and education that still stand strong to this day. Mason recommended that children should spend seven spend 4 – 6 hours outside every “tolerably fine day, from April till October.”
In the first place, do not send them; if it is anyway possible, take them; for although the children should be left much to themselves, there is a great deal to be done and a great deal to be prevented during these long hours in the open air. And long hours they should be; not two, but four, five or six hours they should have on every tolerably fine day, from April till October.-Charlotte Mason
8. Humanize Learning - Better World Ed
I believe there is so much a young person can learn just from having access to resources like Better World Ed.
Better World Ed: Wordless Videos & Stories Humanize Learning
9. Astra Nova School
Did you know that Elon Musk created a school for his children? He is quoted saying, "the skills to create the future aren’t taught in school.”
Check it out -Astra Nova School
10. Entrepreneur School
Think of how much you learn from being an entrepreneur or running your own business. Now imagine a school where the program was based on every young person being an entrepreneur. I love it! I know I would've thrived in a school like that.
An example of a US school doing this is Trekker School - Trekker School - A Private K-12 School in St. George, Utah (stgeorgeprivateschool.com)