According to a recent policy brief by the Brookings Institution, improvements to the American educational system are essential to stimulating economic productivity at both the national and individual levels. While many are calling for government-led transformation of the US educational system, others aren’t waiting around for policy change. Instead, enterprising organizations such as the following are playing an active role in re-imagining learning.
1. The Blue School – A few years ago, the founders of the Blue Man Group were unsatisfied with the current private school offerings in NYC and created a new educational experience for their children and the city’s youths. Their school, The Blue School, provides an educational experience where students are not narrowly focused on college applications, but instead work on developing their creative, artistic, and cognitive skills. The children even have a hand in directing the curriculum, which attempts to integrate what children want to learn with what adults want to impart.
2. Microsoft’s High School of the Future – The High School of the Future is a Philadelphia public school where technology and innovation are at the core of the curriculum. A culture of innovation is developed by teaching students to learn from small failures they face on the way to achieving big successes. Students set college goals very early on and are frequently exposed to Microsoft and other large corporate sponsors to reinforce the belief that they can work anywhere and achieve anything. This year, all of the 117 graduates, most of whom are from economically-challenged West Philadelphia, have college plans.
3. Singularity University – The grand mission of Singularity University is to “to assemble, educate, and inspire leaders who understand and develop exponentially advancing technologies to address humanity’s Grand Challenges.” Renowned futurist Dr. Ray Kurzweil and spaceflight pioneer Dr. Peter H. Diamadis founded the institute to prepare entrepreneurs for the technological advances that will shake up our world in the next decade. The institute’s curriculum is ripe with presentations by top thinkers in the fields of nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, energy, biotech, robotics, and computing.
These three unique programs demonstrate innovative thinking in education. Can these ideas be applied more broadly? What is the future of education?