Do as the rich do

When it comes to education the Harlem Children’s Zone’s Geoffrey Canada has it right when he says he wants for Harlem’s kids what his rich donors want for their kids. Its a lesson worth remembering as business and education leaders meet for the Economic Summit.

Seems like the most important question for the attendees should be “what kind of education do you want for your kids and grandkids?” Rather than asking employers only “what kind of skills do you need to fill available jobs today and for the foreseeable future?”

We have explored previously the kind of education that Michigan’s affluent want for their kids and grandkids. The New York Times wrote about this as well in an article entitled A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute. Its about the Waldorf School of the Peninsula where some of Silicon Valley’s tech elite send their kids to a school. Its “one of around 160 Waldorf schools in the country that subscribe to a teaching philosophy focused on physical activity and learning through creative, hands-on tasks.” Where “the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.”

David Arsen in his terrific open letter to the Governor writes about Greenhills where many of Ann Arbor’s affluent send their children. He writes:

Students at Greenhills do not take standardized tests until they apply to college. The school’s educators sympathize with their public school colleagues whose professional lives now revolve around tests. Greenhills does not accept credit for online classes, nor offer classes for credit in the summer. It takes a firm position against students taking courses at other institutions, including colleges or universities, unless they have already taken the school’s most advanced course in a subject. Greenhills students don’t graduate early, but rather all together at a spring commencement. The school is designed around remarkable physical spaces devoted to “forums” for students in each grade to meet, deliberate and socialize. The school has a thoughtful rationale for these decisions: it wants students to interact with one another and faculty to establish a durable and supportive community.

The bottom line for all these schools as I wrote: “An education that prepares students for adult life in all its dimensions, not just for a job or even a career. An education that prepares students to pursue their dreams any place on the planet, not just here in Michigan. An education that is about being a lifelong learner, not just someone that scores well on a standardized test today.”

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