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High School Doesn’t Have to Stink

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From the list of suggested podcasts, “The History of our World in 18 Minutes” jumped out as looking like the most interesting. Why wouldn’t I want to brush up on my world history? This is as far as I got…

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Way over my head….moving on.

I went on to listen to Chris Lehmann talk about how “Education is Broken”. I remember high school vividly. He mentioned a lot of things that had the bells ringing from my own experiences: 12 pt font Times New Roman, 3-5 paragraphs, etc. The big focus in his talk was how high school students are either saying or thinking: Why do I have to learn this? I agree. There is such a push for force feeding content without leaving room for making connections to how things can relate to the world around us and therefore, allowing kids to make sense of the content.

He spoke a lot about begin principal of an non-traditional school in Philadelphia. This school and its teachers flip the drive from “someone told me to teach it” to “we should be teaching HOW to learn”. By way of powerful investigations into content, student driven learning projects, critical thinking and an overall openness to ideas, students in this school are taking all of the same classes as other high schools, however they are finding ways to make connections from their classes to their world. Lehmann drives home how a freedom in choosing projects, or constructing things within borders allows students make sense of their learning by making meaningful connections. They investigate a topic, they find answers and they “build stuff”. The teachers say “teach me what you know” instead of lecturing. 

Lehmann stated “we have to honor the lives these kids lead”. He stressed the need for educators to stop preparing them for college or the “future”, and instead place value on where they are now – that they can be important as high school students and that their learning is not just for the future. By preparing them to be life long learners, these teachers are creating citizens and not just workers. 

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