Wildlands School—The Uncommon

I just had the privilege of reading a book manuscript to be released this spring called, An Improbable School:  Transforming How Teachers Teach and Students Learn, by Wildlands founding teachers Paul Tweed and Liz Seubert.

In my view this small Wisconsin charter school is a perfect example of why chartering came to be: Innovation + Autonomy = Results. It is the story of ordinary people taking an extraordinary stand for change. This inspiring book will help others move education into the 21st century: personalized learning and teacher-powered schools are our future!

Like this blog, the authors challenge all of us to “Change the Questions” we ask about education reform. “Maybe we should begin by asking what we want from education in the first place,” they say. What a concept! They lament that our education system, focused on content knowledge, tests, published materials and the like have actually turned away many students and given them “good reasons to dislike learning.”

Say the authors: “We need to stop asking how we can improve or reform our current practices and start asking how we can create NEW systems and practices for 21st century students, families, communities, and economies.” AMEN!

How do you start? “Involve the students, do something real, and train teachers to work with students instead of controlling them. Get rid of the stale rows of desks—or even the classroom,” they say.

So they take their students into the nature reserve on a mobile laboratory bus, for example. Teachers and students stretch out of their comfort zones as they learn together during student projects. School culture requires that everyone be treated as equal in the community and that students use their individual strengths and challenges, even if they don’t show up on tests. Teachers let students be in charge of their day.

It is not rocket science.  It is 21st century education.