So, how will Willow be different?

Last week I was able to take a trip with three guys I have known since second grade. We spent several days in Memphis listening to great blues music, eating fantastic barbeque, visiting museums, and attending a minor league baseball game. It was great catching up with friends I haven’t seen in some time.
One evening we were talking about how much things have changed since we all attended grade school. We marveled at how much technology has changed our lives. The pace of inventions seems to pick up every year. Since 2007, the year in which many of Willow’s incoming scholars were born, we have seen the following:

  • iPhone: 2007
  • Netflix: 2007
  • Snapchat: 2011
  • Medical nanobots: 2015
  • Tesla Model 3 electric car: 2017

But what about education? What innovations or significant shifts have we seen in education going back as far as 1900? Let’s look at a couple of classroom photos. The first is from the early 1900s, the second from 2018. 

1920 classroom.jpeg
2018 classroom.jpg

It is clear that classrooms have not changed much. What about class schedules and how time is used? Again, let’s compare two images.

Write here…

Write here…

2017 schedule.jpg

The schedule on the left is from 1923 and shows individual subject areas (math, science, history, and even penmanship), and most periods are about 40 minutes long.

This schedule on the right is from last year and is essentially the same.

The question is, why? Most of us have gone through 12 years of public education that looks the same as that of our parents and grandparents. It’s just how school is done.

So, how will Willow be different? First, we focus on the needs of each child. Scholars are empowered to become self-directed learners—they set goals for their learning, reflect on their progress and build habits and mindsets to help them lead fulfilling and productive lives. Teachers have the tools they need to customize instruction to meet student's unique needs and interests, as well as the time and support to build strong relationships with scholars.

Second, scholars engage with projects that connect the classroom to the real world. When students work in teams to apply what they're learning to projects that solve real-world problems, they develop strong collaboration, communication, and critical thinking skills. Teachers facilitate authentic, deeper learning projects and provide coaching and feedback on cognitive skills.

Finally, scholars reflect on their experiences and develop habits of success, including learning strategies, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills. Teachers mentor scholars in weekly check-ins, providing ongoing feedback and serving as a coach and advocate.

While we do have class periods and classrooms, what happens during class time and how classrooms are organized is what allows us to meet the needs of our scholars.

The early 1900s was dominated by industrialization. The 2000s have seen the rise of technology. Even with these radical changes, education has essentially stayed the same. It’s long past due for schools to be more innovative to meet the needs of our scholars in a rapidly changing and uncertain world