GOOD

What if Schools Weren't Schools Anymore?

Schools could become community centers, and diplomas could give way to official citizenship.

Everybody has big ideas about how to fix education in the United States, but it seems like the reform conversation eventually comes back to one thing: How can we make schools better so we can churn out a more highly educated workforce that will ensure our global economic dominance continues? No one wants the American economy to fail, but what if the point of school isn’t cranking out degreed workers that will help us beat China? What if the key to transforming education relies on upending our individualistic, market-driven ideas about the purpose of school?


In late February, I was one of 20 participants at an intense consultative session in which we worked to come up with a revolutionary vision for public education. Hosted by the Insight Labs, a Chicago-based pro bono strategy development platform that's been described as "the love child of a think tank and a flash mob for good," the session has inspired a manifesto that poses this radical concept: "School isn't school. It is the birthplace of the citizen ideal."

Seen through this lens, school is a place where people "learn to live a life of selfless service on behalf of the community; it's where we find the path to virtue, subordinating innate self-interest as individuals to the interests of the community, the good of the whole."

If it sounds a little pie-in-the-sky, think about the alternative. Students aren't exactly breaking down the classroom door to learn disconnected facts that they'll regurgitate onto standardized tests. Too many are bored, only jumping through the hoop of education because employers use degrees as screening tools.

The lack of purpose—think of all the times you asked a teacher "what am I ever going to use this for?"—gives students little incentive to not drop out. If students do graduate high school and college, too many don't know what they want to do with the rest of their lives because they've never had to apply what they're learning to the challenges facing the world. That could all change if students, parents, educators, businesses, government institutions, and nonprofit organizations all came together to make school a place that ultimately serves as a community-wide resource.

In this vision, schools would become hyper-local. The school community could, for example, collectively decide what neighborhood problems need solving. Students would then use their their creative and critical thinking abilities, as well as their academic skills, to tackle real-world issues like the dropout rate or homelessness. Then, when graduation day rolls around, a student wouldn't just get a piece of paper signaling that she's employable. Instead, upon completing formal schooling, "the highest possible title in a free society is conferred upon us: citizen."

Of course, an idea like this only improves—or becomes a reality—when the community weighs in on it. Whether you love or hate this vision, Insight Labs wants your feedback.

Photo via (cc Flickr user Satoru Kikuchi

Articles
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

Keep Reading Show less
test
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

Keep Reading Show less
Health

Villagers rejoice as they receive the first vaccines ever delivered via drone in the Congo

The area's topography makes transporting medicines a treacherous task.

Photo by Henry Sempangi Senyule

When we discuss barriers to healthcare in the developed world, affordability is commonly the biggest concern. But for some in the developing world, physical distance and topography can be the difference between life and death.

Widjifake, a hard-to-reach village in northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with a population of 6,500, struggles with having consistent access to healthcare supplies due to the Congo River and its winding tributaries.

It can take up to three hours for vehicles carrying supplies to reach the village.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via Keith Boykin / Twitter

Fox News and President Trump seem like they may be headed for a breakup. "Fox is a lot different than it used to be," Trump told reporters in August after one of the network's polls found him trailing for Democrats in the 2020 election.

"There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it," he continued.

Some Fox anchors have hit back at the president over his criticisms. "Well, first of all, Mr. President, we don't work for you," Neil Cavuto said on the air. "I don't work for you. My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you, just report on you."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics