Will is the author of Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information are Everywhere. Will believes that access to information and expertise around the globe should change how we approach learning and teaching in schools. He writes, “I believe there remains a great deal of value in the idea of school as a place our kids go to learn with others, to be inspired by caring adults to pursue mastery and expertise, and then to use that to change the world for the better.” But he cautions against the traditional approach to teaching and learning in schools: “What doesn’t work any longer is our education system’s stubborn focus on delivering a curriculum that’s growing increasingly irrelevant to today’s kids, the outmoded standardized assessments we use in an attempt to measure our success, and the command-and-control thinking that is wielded over the entire process.”
Will emphasizes that students can access information and teachers everywhere now, and as a result we have the responsibility to help them learn to be discerning users of the internet. We also now have a great opportunity to help them explore their passions. As we have found at WMS, the best learning happens when students are pursuing answers to questions they truly care about, and the easy access to abundant information allows for more of this type of learning – whether through 20% projects or LASR Projects.
As Will wrote, “…we have to move away from telling kids what to learn, and when and how to learn it. We have to stop that not only because it drives away any passion our children have for learning, but also because — especially now, when curriculum is everywhere — it’s not a very effective way of going about our business. When you think of how we learn once we leave school, developing our own paths to learning the things we want to, why wouldn’t we let kids do that in the classroom?”
It will be exciting for our faculty to explore these ideas with Will, and to think about what will work best at WMS.