When I set up the website, eLearning Central in 2011, one of the first posts I wrote was about how I saw school changing in the 21st Century. This was based on my, up to then, 50 years experience of being both pupil, graduate, teacher, and an e-learning manager in local authority. This was the article:
A personal view on one alternative for future education: The beginning of a vision by Richard Gentle on the direction education could take with the right understanding and leadership. Richard Gentle – One view of the future
Since that time, I have witnessed the further decline of education, rather than the renaissance I thought might have been possible through the introduction of ‘free schools’. What I believed [in the UK] to be a system 30 years out of date, is now closer to 100 years out of date. Put simply, the model for educating our children from the first industrial age, is no longer relevant in the second and third technological ages. We still insist on forcing our view of the world on our children, ensconced in a walled, classroom, environment, when the information world is available to them, wherever they may find themselves.
Although the title of this post may infer that Bill Gates endorsed me personally, this is not the case. However, the school that he talks about in this article, operates in many of the ways I first suggested; one being a project-led approach, connecting with specialist help in relevant subject areas.
See inside the school Bill Gates thinks could be the future of learning (Includes a video clip in the article)
The article describes Summit Sierra as ‘a Seattle-based charter school where kids get heaps of feedback as they guide their own learning. The model is known as personalized learning.’
The term ‘personalised learning’ is one that has been used in UK education for some time and could be banded together with the other popular term of, ‘child-centred learning’. All these terms were created in environments of equal opportunity, political correctness, and a verbalised approach of ‘putting the child first’. However, as with most of these ‘initiatives’, much gets lost in translation, when politicians and educators have to compromise in ‘the real world’.
Work and group-based projects, also encourage team working and supporting those you work with. The article also points out that, ‘Not only do kids get to learn at their own pace, which gives them more confidence, but teachers at Summit get matched with students who they’ll mentor for all four years.’
Allowing children to work at their own pace, is also an acknowledgement of ‘child development’ studies that showed that children develop in different ways and at different speeds, regardless of their age. UK schools insist that all children of a particular age, must be tested according to their class age. Furthermore, ‘by taking an active role in their education, they learn responsibility and self-reliance.’
The article is only short and gives minimal detail. However, the approach is healthy and contemporary.