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Randolph: What Is School?
Posted 12/01/2015 06:45PM

"What are the outcomes of an effective 21st-century education? In other words, what is/are the mindset(s) that we are trying to educate for? What common capacities do students from different backgrounds and cultures need, and how are they best developed and assessed?"

Riverdale Head of School Dominic A.A. Randolph poses a series of questions about the purpose of education in an exchange of letters with Max Ventilla, the founder of AltSchool in San Francisco. The first two letters were published today on Bright, an online publication from Medium about innovation in education. 

As part of a series called "Build On This," the two educators explore the challenges of managing change in schools. Entitled "What Is School," Randolph's letter, which begins the conversation, talks about the tendency of schools to define themselves as traditional or progressive even though the terms are no longer useful. He raises four issues:

  • What are the outcomes of 21st Century education? How can schools apply current research about learning to classroom settings?
  • What is the best combination of digital and face-to-face teaching? 
  • How can students be prepared for a life of learning?
  • How can schools collaborate better and share the results of their experimentation?

In his response, "Why (Is) School," Ventilla writes that the genesis of AltSchool. "began with the notion that whatever the future might hold, we wanted our kids to become introspective, entrepreneurial, conscientious adults. We can’t predict the future, but we might be confident that any future will favor people who know themselves and can shape the conditions around them to meet their needs and the needs of their communities."

The AltSchool offers a personalized approach that encourages students to ask questions and solve problems. Technology is an important tool in providing a flexible program. "Our students need, above all, to learn how to ask their own questions and solve the problems they deem most important," he writes. "Schools should then become the curated setting to introduce kids to potential passions, to foster perseverance, to demonstrate excellence, and to cultivate independence."

To read Randolph's article, click here.

To read Ventilla's article, click here.

 

 

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