Last week I had the opportunity to represent Tuxedo Park School at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Certificate Program: The Future of Independent Schools. We were forty school leaders from around the world, from all kinds of schools, working with the President of NAIS, John Chubb, and various renowned professors. The program zig-zagged between heady intellectual topics of personal growth, big data and creating caring communities, to analyzing statistics and survey data for school improvement, to looking at and discussing new financial models including the possibilities and positive implication of MOOCS and online learning for our schools.
One of our sessions addressed the relevance and importance of incorporating innovation and design into our school curriculum. It was facilitated by Assistant Professor Karen Brennan http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/ed/14/01/brennan-design.
In this session, we did a partner activity: a small design challenge with legos, a reflective discussion activity with a small group where talked about meaningful learning moments in our education, and then a group design activity where we were asked to create a learning manifesto for our group based on those most memorable learning moments from our own experiences. The subsequent conversation had us dissecting what we remember from learning, what facilitates good learning and how that does or does not relate to what we are asking students to accomplish in schools today. Of course, she could help us tie it all back to the work being done in the MIT Media Lab and to frame some questions that we would bring back to our own schools around how we can transform learning for our students, and why we must. She took us from the theories of instructionism (where schools taught us to make meaning from information passively received from our teachers) to constructivism (how we can make meaning through understanding our world) to the new theory of constructionism (how we can make meaning of our world and look at multifaceted problems by making things and prototyping them for specific uses).
This was a fascinating session, sonly scatting the surface of what is possible. This TED talk by Avi Reichental underscores the importance of this kind of learning in our schools.