A Generation of Solutionists

When touring 64 of the most innovative schools in the country, Grant Lichtman commented that if he could summarize his long road trip, it would be with one word, Dewey. He continued that in the face of an educational narrative focused primarily on standardization, the most innovative places remain resolved to provide students with a personalized learning environment, that while most rigorous, blends a deeper sense of success into the school and community culture. True success for these spaces of learning pushes beyond the cornerstone tenant of schools, scholarship, to the areas of leadership, citizenship, and stewardship. These three areas of growth for students allow for the democracy-building vision of Dewey to be a part of the schools again. Students that are involved in experiences and opportunities that support their growth as leaders, citizens, and stewards grow a deep connection to their community. They begin to see the invisible people and places of their community, and the ideas of social, economic, and environmental justice bubble to the surface. Dewey would embrace schools as incubators of change, and our society is clamoring for a fresh generation of thinkers and solutionists. Today’s high school, especially high schools with an appropriate sized student body, can truly embrace this democracy-building vision briefly described above. It comes with the right blend of project-based learning, technology integration, and excellent student work for an authentic audience added to a rigorous curriculum as the foundation. As school leaders, this vision should be our primary work.