Editors Desk: Times are changing (for real)
10/30/2012 12:00:00 AM
Two recent school tours this fall have convinced me that
the phrase “reinvention of education” may finally be
more than cliche. The first was through the 80-student
Merit Prep Charter School in Newark, NJ. Everything
about the place was new: the faint smell of drying paint;
fresh-faced Teach for America instructors; students
marching through experimental, 10-hour rotating instruction
shifts of small group instruction and solo time using laptops and
earphones. The second was the John Adams Middle School in
Edison, NJ, the first middle school in the US to be equipped
with Promethean ActivTables, (see photo). While the Adams’
classrooms still had desks in rows and three-ring binders stuffed with worksheets, it also carried
a chaotic vibrancy of sixth-graders working in the corners, Googling research and trading
presentations as they hunched over chemistry and
social studies projects. It would have made any 21st
Century Learning guru proud.
What made these tours different than so many
others over the years were the students. Instead of
awkward show ponies pretending to play with this
or that “revolutionary technology” solution, these
children were actively engaged in their learning
and proud to show off what they were doing. Here’s
the other thing—none saw the technology or the
access to the Internet as a big deal. Of course they
could instantly find where Abraham was buried (the
Cave of Machpelah, near Hebron) or the density
of Magnesium (1.738 g/mL)! We’re going to keep
following these schools as they continue to reinvent
themselves. Be sure to let us know about your tales
of changes as well!
— Kevin Hogan
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