In every school, there are those kids. The ones that never feel comfortable with the way that we design school for the rest. They may be the ones that color outside the lines, seem brilliant but never turn in work, hang with any adult conversation, are deeply passionate about one topic, can't sit still, love art and music, but rarely complete a worksheet or test, read when you are lecturing, or draw the most amazing doodles.
These are the kids we are sucking the life out of with our educational monoculture that teaches kids as if they are row crops. As with row crops, we are trying to increase yields (test scores) and control variability (rows of desks, bells, student schedules, etc). It is time to shift our approach with students like these.
What if we choose 30 elementary, 30 middle, and 30 high school students that didn't fit the normal school mold, and built a place for them? This shift could provide 3-4 facilitators of learning (teachers) an opportunity to return to the reason that they entered the profession (crafting excellent learning for individual students).
These adult learners would support a shift that would allow us to break the mold, showcase how this work could be done differently, and begin to innovate from within before the pressure of choice, charters, and chatter forces changes that no one wants to make, or changes that may not work very well.
What is stopping this experiment? Is it will? Is it inertia? The cost of interventions for these kids as they progress in school could justify the potential increases in cost for trying something new. The only thing that won't work is what we are doing to facilitate learning with these students currently.
Can we find a new way together?