Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Keeping students engaged with choice

Mary Institute County Day School is a private school in Ladue, broadly considered to be the cream of the proverbial crop of St. Louis private schools has this compelling new program which gives students a new way of learning non-traditional course subjects in a hands-on way. It seems that being able to see oneself as part of a larger community is a vital catalyst for success in education. The mini-term allowed students to study in depth subjects like sewing, furniture making and construction and give something back to the community at the same time: quilts went to benefit the American Cancer Society and benches were made for the campus. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Teachers felt the mini-term provided a variety and a renewed energy for regular classes. Teachers were able to use other skills they have, such as the biology teacher who instructed the furniture-making class, and many students got a better, practical sense of what they might like to do after graduating.

This sounds like a great opportunity, and I liked that MICDS has a respect not just for academics but for physical labor that can be rewarding and necessary but that few students get a chance to experience. I love seeing innovation like this, yet we don’t see enough of this kind of curriculum innovation in a public school setting where it could be just as helpful and rewarding for students. I don’t even know that it’s possible with the restrictions endemic to public schools—but I’d love to see something like it that has been shown to keep students engaged.

No comments: