The video above is a presentation by Shawn Cornally about a education program that has been developed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Cornally summarizes the program that teaches students with no curriculum, no doors, no bells, no courses and no tests. The name of the program is BIG and it’s a project based learning program. This program is partnered with traditional classes, at the time of the TED talk, and students work together with a team of advisors including Cornally to develop their classes based on their own interest. In the TED talk, Cornally enumerates several examples of what students have worked on and the courses and standards that connect. Depending on the specific project, we’re talking chemistry to sociology to genetics to english to marketing to programing and more.
The BIG program is the perfect example of necessity being the mother of invention in education. Natural disasters in the form of flooding throughout Cedar Rapids forced the community to rethink how they taught students as a result of a destroyed downtown area. BIG was the eventual result. What makes this program so special, in part, is the fact that this is a community of averages. This is not a wealthy neighborhood but rather a community whose demographics reflect a snapshot of the nation. For example, 48% of the students in Cedar Rapids are eligible for free and reduced lunch.
The goals of BIG were developed by working professionals who were asked what kids need in order to succeed. Here’s what they said: “Kids need to find joy in their work. Fail into something better. Plan their time during the day and lastly, schedule and communicate”. I value what these folks said and I agree that all of these are important ingredients for effective (teaching and) learning. These goals follow my own educational philosophy and, I hope, my own fledgling teaching practice. Student autonomy and interest are most valued as well as real life application of content and relevance.
With all of the discussion of “real life application” and communication, it’s no suprise that technology will have some use in this educational model. However, what is encouraging to me to see, jsut from watching the TED talk, is that the technology that is used in this program is really just tools to operate- the cutting edge factor isn’t the fact that they have technology, but how they use that technology. Google calanders to plan project meetings with advisors, for example. The model is the impressive point here. I see a big future for this style of rethinking education (pun intended).
Source: Cornally, Shawn. "The Tyranny of the Curriculum". (2014, March 14). TED talk. [youtube video]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aldMBgT6u-4&list=PLbRLdW37G3oMquOaC-HeUIt6CWk-FzaGp&index=27
I'm a Teaching Credential Candidate at CSUSM working towards a credential in English and Social Studies/History. Here's where I'll share my thoughts on various articles and videos related to teaching as well as my experiences in the education world.