Where are we going to?
Great schools continue to change as the world around them changes, so that they remain relevant. None of us can truly say where this will lead, but we do have some ideas.
We think that restricting school time from 9 AM until 3:30 PM for 200 days per year is a pretty old idea. TC already operates from 7:15 AM to 5:15 PM, but we can see this extending even further. This will not be forced on students, but they will be given more flexibility in WHEN they can complete their education. We are currently exploring a range of options, including morning and afternoon shifts, weekend and holiday options!
Many people question why we still have a school uniform for students? Clearly it is in direct contradiction to our one person policy and recognition of students’ individuality and creative expression. There are many considerations from concerns over brand clothing, equity, school reputation, cost, as well as the simplicity of not having to worry what to wear.
A number of students working with the SRC are planning a series of consultations with all students, staff and families to determine the TC community view. Any demand for change would have to be significant and if made would be phased in gradually.
Great improvements in technology, mean that it is now possible to effectively conduct some classes virtually, rather than having students on site. This is quite separate from “flip learning” where students access and work through media content before, or in place of, a class. Eg Edrollo. What we are considering here is where a part of the class is the teacher and students interact in real time over the internet. TC is exploring the concept of virtual classes, which will give students flexibility in WHERE they complete their education. We imagine that most students will decide on a combination of physical and virtual classes.
An extended school day can change WHAT a student's education looks like. Their day might include some classes, some part-time work at the school, working on their own business, practising with their band, rehearsing for a play, doing some sport, doing some personal research as well is mixing with friends.
It is likely that the number of students at TC will continue to grow, because we want to support all students who want to Take Control of their own learning to be able to do so. We are however looking for other schools to partner with so that our physical numbers on-site remains manageable.
TC is now recognised internationally as a leader in innovative education. We have spent the past two years looking for schools to partner with who would like to take on aspects of the Take Control model. We are not trying to clone schools, as clearly each community has its own specific context. We now have a partner school called Mount Alexander College in Flemington, Victoria, Australia, and we continue to actively look for partnerships.
By 2017 we will exceed 1000 students, but we are determined to continue to value each student as an individual. Our challenge is to retain the best aspects of a small school, whilst maximising the benefits of a larger school. We are working furiously to find ways to enable more students to experience student empowered learning. Some of these include, an additional campus, a city campus, virtual classrooms and significantly extending the school day.
A glimpse of what “school” should be like
We envision a place where students WANT to go and spend a large proportion of their time because they feel safe, valued as an individual, part of something greater than themselves and it is enjoyable. It is a place where they have the opportunity to DO REAL THINGS, develop new skills and learn about topics that they see as IMPORTANT, MEANINGFUL and RELEVANT to them. Adolescence is a time of growing self-awareness, and students should be challenged to work out what they believe in, assisted with self-reflection, and supported to make a genuine contribution to their community.
The new concept of school is that it is as much a place of DOING as it is LEARNING. The things that students work on must be “real things” with a genuine purpose. The outcome must be something that is genuinely valued by someone, not simply done for the sake of learning.
It is also a place where students are exposed to a broad range of new experiences, allowed to explore their interests and hopefully discover a particular passion that can motivate and provide a focus for their learning. The school will value and support each student to develop this passion as part of their overall development.
The school supports each student to develop a healthy lifestyle by offering a range of recreational activities, education and practical support with developing and maintaining good physical and mental health.
Advances in technology will increasingly mean that this school “place” becomes a mixture of a physical and virtual one.