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R.I. student project: Design a school that meets your needs | Providence Journal

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Students designing their own school? Say it isn't so... yes, it is.  SD4E is 24 students designing their own school. And Rhode Island is going to let them iterate. Of course, there's the matter of funding (Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?), but I couldn't be more thrilled about this. 

In case you think Rhode Island is the rest stop between Connecticut and Massachusetts, we've got some amazing things going on here in innovation and education. It's bubbling to the surface--we've got a ton of innovation, and more percolating. Why? 

Because people can afford to live here and park their cars. 

So, ed disruption is taking on a whole new meaning here. 

This school is my dream--Students are my customers. The system needs to rise to the occasion, recognize this, and give them a voice. This project does this. Students should be designing curriculum, learning with their passions, and being guided by faculty who get them ready for, and connect them with, the real world. 

It is my hope that this project rocks the world of education and that every single school starts thinking like this. Students can and should: 

1. Drive curriculum

2. Have a voice in teacher evaluation

3. Be connected with real-world mentors who have made it work

4. Have design and creativity time. 

5. Have access to and permission to use the most modern technology. 

6. Learn, through their education, to develop real-world solutions to the problems and areas of opportunity they see in the world around them. 

Textbooks and infighting do none of this. I hope this project is a very public start here in Rhode Island. 

One question I get is whether students will say things like "I hate math, I only want..." No. You don't get to do that. What you do get to do, as a teacher/mentor, is show the value of subjects that are less palatable and integrate those subjects into other passions, rather than say "Good question, but we have to get to this. It's on the test." 

In my experience, when we teach to student passions, they do more. On their own. Out of love. Which is exactly what we want.