Through the Education Lens

"Who Says You Can't Replicate Another School's Success?"

CJ Westerberg, April 16, 2011 12:01 PM


High Tech High Comes to Dalton GA
Video Below

by C.J. Westerberg

One of the key points I liked most in this video below was the insight shared by teachers
(3:00 minute mark) about the possibility of "going overboard" on a core mission concept. 
In this case, Whitfield County teachers realized that even though they radically re-designed their school  -- in the model of the much-honored, and uber-project-based High Tech High in San Diego -- that not everything had to be project-driven (previously featured in The Daily Riff - "Is this the Best High School in America?").

Too often we see extreme devotion of a process or tool at the expense of the larger goal,
which should be the most motivating and effective learning (see today's post on the digital
transformation in Moorestown NC).  

We see this when the concept of "collaboration" is stressed in schools, to the extent of outright avoidance of solo-work by students.  Kids need to be able to work together, but they also have to learn how they learn best, which has to include independent learning.  Think of how we work  today.  We come together to collaborate to solve problems and achieve goals, but we still go back on our own to do research and other work involved to be able to contribute to the group.

Here's a glimpse from "Who Says You Can't Replicate Another School's Success?" from Edutopia.  Do check it out:

Around the country, dozens of schools and districts are making dramatic changes based on High Tech High's practices and are doing so at workaday, non-charter schools with major hurdles to overcome -- far less-glamorous settings than High Tech High.

Teachers and administrators from these schools begin by visiting High Tech High for one of its three-day residencies, which the school offers three times a year. Then, once back home, they benefit from High Tech High's continued mentoring by phone, email, and Skype or even by having the San Diego-based trainers visit their schools. Teachers can also access the wealth of free materials available on the charter school's website.

The nonprofit school charges about $600 per person for its residencies (participants cover their own lodging and transportation), just enough to cover its expenses. The mission is to share best practices and learn from others.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Educators undergoing this transformation don't expect their schools to emerge from it looking exactly like High Tech High. Every school has its own unique teachers, students, culture, history, and setting, and its path to change must uniquely match those. Yet the core design principles that shaped High Tech High -- such as personalization, adult-world connections, a common intellectual mission, and teachers as designers -- apply anywhere, and these are what guide the schools' replication efforts.

High Tech High's founder, Larry Rosenstock, was also named "Person of the Year in Education"
in December 2009.


How to Learn by Diana Laufenberg TED

Transforming Schools for Real Learning - TED - SLA's Chris Lehmann

  • We go from one extreme to another and are still simply shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. When you replicate, you really don't change anything at the systemic level. And when you succeed in this system that was developed during slavery times, you aren't really succeeding at all.

    Cap Lee

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