Staff Ed: Schools must update their design for the 21st century
February 26, 2017
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Over the past 150 years, there have been countless innovations in nearly every area of civilization. Most would argue that these changes have been for the better. However, the traditional structure of 5-day school weeks and every class every day is no longer adequate for modern education. It is the product of an 1800s agrarian society when luxuries like summer vacation were necessary to ensure the prosperity of the farm. Therefore, moving into the 21st century, schools must adjust their design so that students gain independence, learn to take responsibility for their own education, and become lifelong learners.
Some ways that schools can foster this growth is to encourage the practice of independent studies, AP Capstone, out-of-school internship opportunities, and flexible schedules. When students are allowed to take charge of their own education, they not only gain more skills that can be applied to real-life situations but become excited about learning again. Independent studies give students the option to focus on topics within a class. This encourages students to actually learn and engage with their course material as opposed to memorizing the information solely to spit it back out on a test.
AP Capstone is a course designed to allow students to go in depth in a particular discipline that excites them. Throughout the course, a student thoroughly researches a topic, which is comparable to college-level research projects. Due to the unlimited number of options presented, the creativity it encourages and the real world skills acquired by it, implementing this program should be made a priority in secondary education.
As a school that strives towards empowering students for success in college, BSM should provide students with extensive opportunities for internships in their fields of interest. Internships allow students to get the hands-on experience that future employers look for. By redesigning the school day structure to allow students to intern during the school year, students would not only gain real-world work experience but be more prepared for the workforce, therefore increasing the likelihood of their being hired.
Finally, BSM should commit to allowing students to have a more flexible schedule. Allowing high school students to choose whether or not they attend class on a daily basis would be an effective way to encourage self-management. While it’s true that some class time should be mandatory, students can also learn course material and keep up with work without being in class.
With breakthroughs being made every day in all aspects of culture, it’s more critical than ever that the schooling system catches up to match students’ growing demand for independence in self-led education. The steps are implementing courses and schedules that work to achieve higher goals rather than streamlining how students learn. By including AP Capstone and school-encouraged internship programs, schools can create more prepared and creative members of a 21st-century society.