I want you to imagine what would happen if a student’s report card were organized by critical skills, not subject matter. Students would be assessed on their progress on the 5 C’s: collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, and citizenship. Suppose subjects, content, and standards were a means of enabling students to make progress on the critical skills with the appropriate steps taken to ensure students were exposed to important areas of content. Imagine that each student’s progress was evaluated with constructive feedback to enable students to create craftsman like work through multiple drafts. I can imagine students discovering their gifts and talents given this type of learning environment, and then setting out on a path across a broad range of careers.
I fully recognize the importance of exposing our students to the fundamental building blocks, important concepts, historical figures and events, and inspiring literature. However, to my knowledge, no one has come up with what content knowledge is absolutely essential. Our students now live in a world that is globally competitive and rewards excellence and punishes mediocrity. Young people pursuing a career for which they have no passion will certainly find themselves unsuccessful, unhappy, or both. Our goal at all levels should be to expose students to a wide array of pursuits and assist them in finding their gifts, talents, or passion. When I enter a kindergarten class, I see kids full of curiosity, exploration, and passion. But unfortunately, it’s a rare high school student who demonstrates any joy for something related to his or her education. This is the real issue. A student in high school who is just going through the motions and “playing the game” at school is a young adult who isn’t learning or developing skills to be prepared for college, career, or life.
As we implement our strategic plan, which includes the 5 C’s and deeper learning opportunities, students will be getting an education that will prepare them for their world after high school. They will be learning how to learn. And just because students and teachers may be having fun at school shouldn’t cause you to conclude they are not learning. While this might sound too ambitious to be achievable, it is in fact, possible for students and teachers to experience a learning environment in which standards and content are covered while developing the critical skills our children will need to succeed.
Every Child, Every Day.