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