Dennis Littky’s Big Picture of Small Schools
Dennis Littky was interviewed for Tom Peters Рhere are some of my favourite parts, though check out the rest!
The researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the term “flow” and really studied that. He has a book called Becoming Adult: How Teenagers Prepare for the World of Work where he talks about how you become an adult thinker. He says that you study something, anything, in a very deep way, and that helps you become a deep thinker.
That’s right, but it doesn’t mean they all really read it. I added up all the minutes we’re in school, and all the minutes and hours we live if we live until we’re 70. If we go to school from age five until 22, we’re actually in school just nine percent of our lives. That tells me that to have a real effect, we need to teach kids to love to learn, and to keep learning even after they’re out of school. Otherwise, what good are we doing?
If they don’t know Shakespeare, I’d like for them to think, “Oh, he sounds interesting,” and want to read something he wrote, rather than read his plays in 10th grade, 12th grade and in college and still not understand or enjoy it (which is what I did). The important thing is to love learning and to have the skills to learn. It’s about using the knowledge rather than just learning the content.
When you look at the people who have made a difference in our world, they’re passionate about something. They’re not necessarily generalists who know a little about everything. They have perseverance and a lot of personal skills. I think that every single kid needs an individual plan with a personalized curriculum that addresses his strengths, weaknesses, and interests. There needs to be less emphasis on a standard content for everyone and more emphasis on using content to engage kids. Schools typically aren’t interested engaging kids. In an EdWeek survey, students were asked to describe school in one word. The number one response was “boring.”
And check out The Big Picture, a project that is striving to create mass-customised educational experiences for America… what if you could give your child the education that they needed to learn, grow and expand, rather than just the same boxed education that everybody gets? And they can do it, as shown by The Met, a school designed to achieve exactly that. When will we see that sort of value in education coming to students in Australia??? It will be going to China very soon…
They’ve got 24 schools so far…