Deconstructing School with [ ] schools
So you want to start a school? Plenty of people would tell you what you "need" in order to do so, all the way from the assessment tools you should use to the school lunches you should offer. But what if a school model came not from asking what you need first, but from what you should NOT include?
"What if schools abolished [ ]?"
This is the question that Christine Ortiz and Catherine Pozniak from [ ] Schools asked 21 Kansas City educators, architects, and community leaders right when they walked in the door to The Lean Lab's Pop-Up Happy Hour session with [ ] Schools on Thursday. Those 21 select innovators did not balk at the task, immediately abolishing traditional school structures and systems without further prompting.
It was incredible to watch what unfolded next as participants split into teams and walked through a design experiment to create a new school model where long-standing educational pillars such as core classes, schedules, and grades were called in to question. As Ortiz put it, we have to question why these "relics" of education exist in the first place before we can build a model that best serves students. For instance, if schools abolished assessments, how does the new school model hold the staff and students accountable to learning? Too, before you begin to add anything to the school design, what's the reasoning behind it? From that, you can determine whether the structure is truly a relic of education - something that can be discarded. Or, does it exist for a specific outcome? If so, how can you make it better?
In just 1.5 hours we witnessed participants grapple with these larger questions and create the bare-bones design of 5 inspirational school models. More so, this exercise brought to light a conversation that we need to have in this community with our existing schools. What if we started asking questions like the ones posed by [ ] Schools? What if schools abolished [ ]? What if schools were designed with [ ] in mind? And what if you had the power to create [ ]? This is especially relevant given that 2014-15 MAP scores show academic gaps are not closing between urban and suburban school, and KC charter schools are performing no better, if not worse, than urban Kansas City public schools.
Where would our city be if we started to ask some of these questions? Join us in this conversation as we build a Kansas City that is world-renowned for education innovation. Comment, tweet, and share your "what if's" with us using the hashtag #ThinkBeyondSchool and join us at our monthly happy hours to help us create this change.