Friday, January 25, 2008

The Common Principles for 21st Century Schools

My Twitter network came alive this weekend at the Educon 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia, PA. I met so many people that I have known virtually for a long time. We had amazing conversations about learning and technology (in that order). What was most powerful for me was the common vision that many of us share about what good teaching and learning looks like in the 21st century. Thank you so much to Chris Lehmann and everyone else who made this all possible.

In the spirit of Ted Sizer's Common Principles for the Coalition of Essential Schools (Thanks to Thom Hoffman for his session on the topic), I list below my thoughts on the Common Principals for 21st Century Schooling. I do not believe these principles should take the place of Sizer's vision. I use his model for inspiration and as the backbone for what I have begun to flesh out below and on a wiki.

I've created an Educon 2.0 group on the Classroom 2.0 Ning Website for attendees (both virtual and face to face) to continue the conversation.

The Common Principles for 21st Century Schools
This is a work in progress. Please join the wiki and help me to revise and refine these ideas.

Community is Essential - The school should bring learners and teachers together into a supportive community that nurtures both the individual and the group. The community should permeate all possible spaces, in the classroom, in the home and Online.

Critical Thinking - The school should actively encourage learners and teachers to think critically, continually asking the question, "Why do we teach what we teach?"

Risk Taking - The school should actively encourage learners and teachers to risk failure in the pursuit of understanding.

Learner Centered - The school should surround the learner with ideas and information, encouraging the learner to pursue a wide variety of paths to knowledge, and supporting the personal growth for all who inhabit the community.

Diversity - The school should actively encourage and pursue the input of those both inside and outside the community with a diversity of opinions. The school should consistently check that it is inclusive and supportive of learners and teachers from diverse backgrounds.

Nurture all learners - The school should provide opportunities and encouragement for all members of the community including teachers, students and parents to learn and grow.

Pursue Innovation - The school should actively explore, pursue and test new ideas and technologies, while always keeping the learner at the heart of the pursuit.

Good schools graduate good people - The school should actively and explicitly teach learners to think beyond themselves, encouraging students to value kindness and generosity.

Break down the walls - The school should provide access and opportunities for learners and teachers to reach outside the walls of the school to the neighboring, national and global community.

Image Citation: "Fitting In" assortedstuff's Photostream on Flickr. 26 Jan 2008. [] 28 Jan 2008 .

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