June 13, 2024

Reinventing School – Global Tour Diary #1

I just touched down in Australia, fresh from a stimulating week-long residency at an Indian school aspiring to be a global leader in rich, modern, experiential education for kids from pre-K through 12th grade. I came on board through a recommendation from my colleagues at Education Design International, in my opinion the best school architects in the world. EDI creates breathtaking learning spaces, as they are doing at the school outside of Delhi, but the real challenge is developing teaching practices worthy of and supported by great design. 

While in-residence, I observed classroom teaching from second thru eleventh grade, taught computer programming and mathematics to classes of fifth graders, collaborated with middle school English teachers, led an all-school PD session, shared resources, made literature recommendations, designed thematic interdisciplinary curricula, attended student presentations, and worked with the administrative team to develop a plan for bringing project-based multiage learning to a middle school in a fashion consistent with progressive ideals, maximum flexibility, and the International Baccalaureate’s Middle Years Program. This turned out to be quite the engineering challenge as it required rethinking curriculum, pedagogy, timetabling, staffing, articulation, and assessment. These challenges are more daunting against a backdrop of fear that parents won’t get it. Will highly competitive Indian parents accept a shift away from rote learning and preparation for a ceaseless system of exams?

Such fears dissipated when the week ended with my presentation of learning-by-doing and preparing all children for an uncertain future full of wondrous possibilities. This vision reflected the needs of the school and drew upon decades of work in schools around the world. Most importantly, I demonstrated what their children might learn and do – today, tomorrow, and into the future. What if grades 6-8 worked with a core group of faculty for three years and the entire curriculum was organized around four interdisciplinary themes per year? (Learn more in an upcoming post)

The enthusiastic response by parents eager for a different educational experience excited the teachers whose hardest work is yet to come. I hope to be along for the ride and work with this community to realize their goal of being one of the finest schools in the world.

Interested in bringing Dr. Stager to your school for a residency, workshop, or keynote address?

Email Gary Stager

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Gary’s work in classrooms around the world informs the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute and vice versa. Please join us for the final Constructing Modern Knowledge this July 9-12, 2024 in Manchester, New Hampshire!