We watched a documentary in class called “Most Likely To Succeed” about High Tech High in San Diego. It was inspiring to see teachers and students alike excited about learning in a new but old way. For decades we have sat in desks and learned by rote the things that seemed important, and we place so much emphasis on memorization and exams, but we are failing miserably at turning out well educated students.
High Tech High is mastering the process of educating students by allowing them to ask questions, to be heard, to create, to wonder, and to build. They are not disciplined for working outside the box, but are encouraged to question and to debate. They discover through inquiry and project based learning and in the process learn not only the curriculum (some of it) but also the soft skills that they will need when they leave home and enter the work force. They are learning leadership, self-reflection, public speaking, group dynamics, problem solving, critical thinking…and in the process developing confidence, trust, friendships, and perseverance. Watching the film ruined me for regular teaching! It is so exciting to see students creating and encouraged and the teachers being facilitators rather than lecturers. As art teachers we are much more that way anyway – the work itself is personal and subjective, so there is room for questioning and discovery in that already. What I love about MLTS is seeing the co-ordinated effort of teachers to work together, to create artistic and meaningful work that uses physics, history, art, and woodworking to make meaning. We talk a lot of cross-curricular learning in our classes and this is a great display of how that can work to an even greater degree than what we discuss.
The only thing that bothers me about the documentary is that it is not readily available. In order to view the film, a person has to host a showing, which costs $350 minimum. I would love to buy this film and share it and tell other people to buy or rent it, but I don’t have $350 laying around for a one-time show. Considering the film is about a generation of students who have immense access to technology and education, how is the film not available widely for rent or purchase? It would be a much more effective and inspiring tool if people could actually see it. It is so frustrating for me to be denied access to something that should be seen and shared. I’m sure in this age of technology that they would make much more money if the content was more available to people. Why would they withhold this?