What do a barge on the Mississippi River, a museum and an RV have in common? They’re all about to be home to new, innovative ways of learning for American high-schoolers.
The XQ Institute believes that the American public school system is “frozen in time” and needs an overhaul to better prepare teens for the future. While there have been some successes in public charter and private school models, the institute wants to cast the opportunity net even wider—“as a vital part of democracy that would guarantee equal opportunity for all.”
That’s why it recently gave out $10 million grants to 10 schools, for a total of $100 million, as part of its Super School Project.
Each of the winners are working on ways to say YES to new models for American high school—more bold, daring yeses than those ignited during the 2000-era charter school. Yes to breaking away from curricula based on rules, repetition, and small, contained problems and yes to moving toward more holistic methods.
XQ aims to encourage teens to think critically, so they will be not only prepared for the careers of tomorrow, but also become innovative and ethical humans.
“Students are hungry for this,” says Kristen McCaw, chief of staff for Summit Public Schools in California. “They told us they want to know if they are on track for the careers of tomorrow.”
Students are hungry for this. They told us they want to know if they are on track for the careers of tomorrow.
XQ wants to shake up an institution that hasn’t evolved since “careers have moved from industrial to idea-driven, as global economies have risen and fallen, as women have strengthened the workforce, as the U.S. has welcomed nearly 250 million new people, as we’ve gone from a Model T to a Tesla and from a switchboard to a smartphone,” according to a video on its website.
Summit Elevate—one of the grant winners—is a school where students will be able to focus on topics and projects that interest them putting them “in the driver’s seat” of their education.
New Harmony, set to open the fall of 2018, is a public school that’s “literally floating in reality” on the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, an area vulnerable to damaging hurricanes and erosion.
The school will use “students’ passions, talents, and skills to address the very real challenge of coastal change,” according to the XQ website.
It’s hard to ignore a problem when you’re staring at it,” a high-schooler says. “So I think a school on a barge will really help…
Students at Grand Rapids Public Museum High School will get to take advantage of 250,000 cultural and historical artifacts to learn in a project- and place-based learning environment.
“We like to be in the presence of the real thing,” says Dale Robertson, president and CEO of the museum. “Even in this digital age, we crave a real experience.”
RISE High in Los Angeles sets its sights on educating teens who are disconnected from school because of either homelessness or the foster care system. RISE removes obstacles to education, like transportation and location, by embedding school sites in social-service-provider locations and by driving to students in its mobile resource center.
If we can completely transform the model for public high school, we think we can change a whole lot more,” according to XQ. “If we change high school, we can change the future workforce for a complex, competitive world. Let’s take a brave leap forward.
Read more about these and the other Super School Project winners who are saying yes to radical new ways of learning here.