Today's Newsletter: Time to Reorganize the Classroom - Tech Learning

Today's Newsletter: Time to Reorganize the Classroom

We need to consider options other than the traditional age-graded classroom.
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Guest post: Steven M. Baule, Superintendent, North Boone CUSD 200, IL

About two months ago, I was looking online for a list of “best reads” in education to use to recharge my educational vision. I found several interesting set of books, one list included The One World Schoolhouse by Salman Khan. One of the issues that we really do need to address is the need to consider options other than the traditional age-graded classroom. I keep thinking about how to put forward this radical concept (which really isn’t radical, in some ways it is a throwback to a time when schools were more individually responsive). In fact, I was able to find an ASCD article on the subject from 1960 from the Milwaukee Public Schools. Definitely, this is an issue I have heard brought up by many of the nation’s best superintendents, but the logistics keep tripping districts up. The International Association for K-12 Online Learning, iNACOL, is one organization that is advocating for a more mastery-based approach to learning. However, it needs to move from being an alternative approach into the mainstream of traditional schools. The Coalition of Essential Schools are another example of an organization looking at how to reorganize instruction around the concepts of mastery learning. I really enjoyed that Khan went back to the ideas of individualized instruction identified by Carlton Washburne in the 1920s. I have mentioned Washburne’s ideas about individualization and 1:1 programs on many occasions (I am sure everyone thought I was just repeating what Khan had written). However, I think it is definitely time to return to a review of the 1920 progressive educators and look at how technology can help give life to the truly great ideas many of them had that were just too far ahead of technology at the time. For more about Carl Washburne, this 1991 Chicago Reader article provides a nice summary of his impact in Winnetka. As a side note, Wikipedia does have an entry for Washburne’s Winnetka Plan. I also suggest signing up and exploring the Khan Academy there is a great deal there for adult learners. One interesting piece is an article on how time is measured.