It has adult designed tests.The world economy is changing quickly. People are more and more likely to be freelance in the “gig” economy. Students ought to be prepared in making their own tests and setting their own standards. It’s not so important that every student meet a pre-specified test rubric; it is important that every student know how to judge and improve the quality of their own work.
It has a pre-written curriculum.Any top down curriculum is a red flag. There are literally billions of websites, videos, and texts available. The odds any school has picked the best ones or even good ones for its students is very small. I currently have tenth graders who have over 75,000 views on single videos uploaded to YouTube that they’ve made entirely by themselves. That’s the number of views this blog gets in an entire year and something that they can be grow and monetize if they decide to pursue it further.
It has subject classes.There aren’t many problems left in the world that fit nicely into a single subject. It’s questionable there ever were. As I wrote recently, solving problems is one way we can think about the concept of progress. We have a lot of progress left to be made on complex issues like the environment, energy, politics, economics, and changing demographics. Students should be spending their time coming up with novel approaches to these problems and learning any subject or content matter needed to make an impact along the way.
It has student schedules.It makes no sense to tell a student to stop working on a problem in the middle of it when they're fully engaged if we give up the idea of subjects, pre-written curricula, and tests. Instead, students can simply work on the problems they have identified as meaningful with help and guidance from their teachers until there is agreement on a satisfactory solution or level of understanding.
It has a focus on college prep.I’ve written about college fair amount. There isn’t a lot of evidence to support the idea that college increases students’ abilities or necessarily increases their income. If they’ve been able to identify the areas they are interested in working on and they don’t require college to pursue those interests, they shouldn’t focus on it. If they’ve identified a field that requires credentials or licenses, then they will probably need to do some prep. College is a tool and should be treated as such. Go if it helps achieve an end goal, but schools should help students to have some idea what their students’ goals are before assuming it is for every student.
It has grades (letter or year level). How do you grade work as an adult? Anyone use the letters A-F? How do you work as an adult? Anyone in an office entirely of people their same age? Not likely. When students focus on solving problems and judging their solutions as satisfactory or of good quality, we can identify good work much like we do pornography. We know it when we see it. A solution simply works or it doesn’t. From there, students should learn whether to improve solutions incrementally or move on to new ones.